An advanced treatment for cancerous liver tumors– yttrium-90 (Y-90) radio embolization – will be introduced in the Fredericksburg area later this year.
Y-90 radio embolization is a form of selective internal radiation therapy, a minimally invasive procedure that delivers radiation directly to liver tumors, said John D. Statler, MD, FSIR, of Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates (VIVA).
In collaboration with Mary Washington Healthcare’s Regional Cancer Center, VIVA interventional radiologists will offer the treatment locally and it will be performed as an outpatient procedure at Mary Washington Hospital. Hospital officials are applying to Virginia regulatory authorities for approval of an amendment to the hospital’s licensure for nuclear medicine in order to proceed with the treatments.
“This has been a couple of years in the making,” Dr. Statler noted. “Few community hospital systems offer Y-90 yet so we are excited to provide this treatment for local patients.”
VIVA’s board-certified, fellowship-trained interventional radiologists provide minimally invasive treatments for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer. They work actively with a multidisciplinary group that includes local specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology to direct cancer patients to the best possible therapy for their individual disease.
The new Y-90 radio embolization treatment will target primary liver tumors and some types of cancer that have spread to the liver, Dr. Statler explained. The procedure is specifically designed for cases where surgical removal of the tumor is not advised due to its location or the patient’s condition.
Though not a cure, studies show that Y-90 radio embolization is effective in shrinking liver tumors and reducing pain. When combined with chemotherapy, studies also indicate that the treatment significantly slows the progression of liver tumors.
One of the most important research studies to date evaluating Y-90 radio embolization, the SIRFLOX study, included 87 medical centers in Australia, Europe, Israel, New Zealand, and the US. According to study findings published Feb. 22, 2016 online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients with metastatic liver tumors from colorectal cancer who received Y-90 treatment in addition to chemotherapy averaged 20.5 months without a progression of liver tumors versus 12.6 months for patients receiving chemotherapy alone.
Dr. Statler said VIVA physicians anticipate that a number of patients with liver cancer can benefit from the procedure, specifically those who are not responding well to other treatments. Having the Y-90 treatment available locally means they will no longer have to travel to major medical centers in Washington, DC, Richmond or elsewhere for the procedure.
In Y-90 treatments, VIVA interventional radiologists insert a catheter into the femoral artery of the patient’s leg, then guide the catheter into position using x-ray guidance. Once the catheter is in the right position, the radioactive Y-90 agent is delivered to the tumor.
“Traditional radiation therapy has proven beneficial for many patients, but one of the disadvantages is you still have some damage to adjacent organs,” Dr. Statler said. “Y-90 radio embolization can more accurately deliver radiation to specific liver tumors.”
For more information on Y-90 treatments in Fredericksburg, contact VIVA at (540) 654-9118
Pictured above is Dr. John D. Statler preparing a patient for a procedure at VIVA. VIVA physicians expect to begin performing Y-90 treatments at the hospital later this year.