SIRT – Localized Internal Radiation Approach to Treating Liver Cancer

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy pic
Selective Internal Radiation Therapy
Image: cirse.org

Dr. Laurie Cuttino earned her MD at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). For the past 15 years, Dr. Laurie Cuttino has served as associate professor of radiation oncology at her alma mater. She also works with Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, which offers leading-edge treatments such as selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT).

SIRT is a method of employing radiotherapy on cancers of the liver that are not removable through traditional surgery. This form of internal radiotherapy involves the insertion of a catheter, or tiny tube, within the hepatic artery, which is the main supplier of blood to the liver. The catheter distributes microspheres (also known as SIR-spheres), which are minute beads smaller in diameter than a human hair.

The radioactive substance yttrium 90 contained within the microspheres delivers precisely calibrated radiation to the tumor. This impacts the blood supply that the tumors require to survive and results in radioembolization. In addition, the tumor DNA is damaged while leaving the healthy tissue virtually intact. This is because the microbeads emit radiation only a few millimeters from their contained location within the tumor area.