Treating Liver Cancers with Selective Internal Radiation Therapy

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy pic
Selective Internal Radiation Therapy
Image: sirtex.com

Honored by numerous publications for her work, Dr. Laurie Cuttino serves as an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia. She is also affiliated with VCU Massey Cancer Center and Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Among the methods Dr. Laurie Cuttino employs to treat liver cancers is using selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) with SIR-Spheres®.

SIRT is a form of internal radiotherapy used to treat liver cancers when surgical removal of the cancer (or tumor) is not an option. With the use of a catheter, millions of microspheres, each smaller than the width of a hair, are delivered to the hepatic artery, the main blood vessel providing blood to the liver.

The radioactive microspheres , known as SIR-Spheres®, become lodged in the small blood vessels surrounding the tumor, reducing the blood supply and preventing the tumor from receiving the nutrients that enables it to grow. The radiation from the microspheres destroys the vessels and the tumor. As the radiation travels only a short distance, there is minimal damage to nearby tissue. Also known as radioembolization, it is not a permanent cure for the majority of patients, but can lengthen the period of survival.

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