New Liver Cancer Treatment Offered
(April 16, 2004) — Although fewer than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, it is a rapidly fatal disease with few treatment options. Surgery remains the preferred treatment but fewer than 15 percent of patients qualify for that option due to the advanced progression of the disease.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin interventional radiologists are now using a treatment called “TheraSphere,” offering hope to patients who in the past had very little. Froedtert is one of nine hospitals in the United States using this treatment.
TheraSphere is a unique new targeted therapy that spares healthy tissue while providing radiation directly to liver tumors. Millions of microscopic glass beads containing the radioactive element, yttrium 90, are delivered via catheter into the femoral and hepatic arteries and transported directly to the liver. This mechanism allows a more concentrated dose precisely where it’s needed most. TheraSphere is a non-surgical outpatient procedure.
Only a limited number of treatments may be needed to achieve the same therapeutic efficacy as multiple treatments with chemotherapy or chemo-embolization. It is thus cheaper overall than other treatments with limited side effects.
According to William Rilling, MD, Froedtert & the Medical College interventional radiologist, TheraSphere offers the best chance for patients with inoperable liver cancer because TheraSphere allows doctors to deliver a much higher dose of radiation — up to five times the maximum possible dose with external beam radiation.
“TheraSphere allows us to focus radiation directly on a tumor without damaging nearby healthy tissue,” said Dr. Rilling. “The result is that patients are more comfortable and can tolerate the treatments better.”