Radioembolization Therapy for Liver Tumors
At Sky Ridge Medical Center in Denver, we are proud to be one of only a few hospitals in the nation to offer some of the most advanced minimally invasive procedures for liver cancer patients.
Our Interventional Radiologist, Dr. Charles Nutting (pictured at right), is among just a handful of American physicians who perform these life-extending procedures.
Sky Ridge has been designated a Center of Excellence for SIR®-Spheres Microspheres radioembolization treatment for inoperable liver tumors and one of the top five institutions in the country performing this procedure.
Yttrium-90 SIR-Spheres® Microspheres Radioembolization for Inoperable Liver Tumors
In simpler terms, what Nutting does is maneuver a catheter into a patient's liver artery and release a high dose of radioactivity designed to minimize the growth of a tumor – and add more than a year to the life expectancy of patients with liver cancer.
Nutting has performed more than 200 of these procedures, originally in Phoenix – where he was the first in the nation to perform the operation – and now at Sky Ridge Medical Center.
How the Procedure Works
Nutting inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin (pictured below), and maneuvers it up and into the liver, near the cancer tumor. He then releases up to 80 million microscopic beads or Microspheres (pictured at left) – each one about the size of four red blood cells, and all of them radioactive.
The next step is to let nature take its course. Tumor cells tend to be hungrier than other cells, and will reliably "consume" 15 times more beads than any other tissue.
That heavy dose of radiation attacks the cancer, and suppresses it, at least for a while.
Radioembolization with Chemotherapy
When first introduced, this therapy was used only as a last resort, after all other therapies had been ruled out. Now, says Nutting, it's used in conjunction with systematic chemotherapy to extend a patient's life by as much as 14 months.
This pioneering work at Sky Ridge is being studied to learn the most effective ways to employ this method throughout the rest of the country.