Cancer Care

Selective internal radiation therapy

Destroying cancer with targeted radiation

We attack tumors from the inside out by targeting radiation directly to cancer cells. With selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), we can deliver millions of microscopic radioactive beads, known as microspheres, straight to pinpointed areas. SIRT controls growth of the tumors and can turn inoperable conditions into candidates for surgery.

Our oncologists at Goshen Center for Cancer Care work together to customize SIRT differently than anywhere else. They use a drug with a radioactive isotope – called a radiopharmaceutical – to destroy or shrink tumors. Oftentimes tumors shrink to a size that can be removed surgically or ablated. Yet, the treatment minimizes radiation to healthy, sensitive tissue and organs surrounding the liver.

Leading the way with innovation

Goshen Center for Cancer Care is one of the few facilities in the nation, and the only one in the region, to offer patients this treatment for primary and metastatic liver cancer. Through a clinical trial, we were the first in the United States to offer SIRT as a first-line treatment option in patients with metastatic colon cancer to the liver. This study has consistently demonstrated that chemotherapy and SIRT, used in combination, are more effective than chemotherapy alone to fight cancer.

Benefits of SIRT

  • Treats cancers that don’t qualify for liver resection or hard-to-reach tumors that were once untreatable
  • Targets radiation directly to the tumor to improve patient outcomes
  • Delivers 40 times more radiation than conventional treatments
  • Minimizes radiation to healthy, sensitive tissue and organs
  • Requires fewer treatment visits due to precise, larger doses
  • Can be completed in as few as two treatments
  • Can be used alone or with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and qualify a patient for surgery

How SIRT works

During SIRT, millions of polymer beads, called microspheres, are embedded with the radioactive element Yttrium-90. These microspheres are then administered into the cancer area through the hepatic artery, the main blood vessel to the liver. Acting much like a time-release pain pill, these spheres (one-third the diameter of a human hair) deliver 40 times more radiation to tumors than conventional therapy. Since the microspheres are too large to enter the bloodstream, they lodge in the small blood vessels that feed the tumor. Once trapped, they eradicate the tumor over a period of weeks. Although the microspheres reduce the size of the liver tumor, the normal liver tissue remains relatively unaffected. This is important, as healthy liver tissue is extremely sensitive to radiation, previously preventing effective treatment with traditional radiotherapy.

At Goshen Center for Cancer Care, we customize our SIRT treatment differently than anywhere else by creating a patient-specific treatment protocol. Using a medical internal radiation dosimetry (MIRD) program developed at our facility, we calculate the highest and safest dose of radiation to deliver to the tumors while sparing healthy tissue. We also utilize PET/CT scans liberally for assessment of disease and treatment response.

Other types of radionuclide therapy

Our radionuclide therapy program offers a wide range of treatments for various types of cancer, including for lymphoma, bone cancer, thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer.

The most commonly used radionuclide therapy is the radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) of hyperactive thyroid glands (hyperthyroidism) and thyroid cancer. For thyroid disorders, we integrate radioactive iodine treatment in a comprehensive surgical oncology and endocrinology program.

Radionuclide therapies can effectively control pain associated with cancer that has spread to the bone from prostate, breast, lung or other cancers. Strontium-89 (Metastron) and Samarium-153 (Quadramet) are isotopes that accumulate in the bone, specifically at the tumor sites. We use these therapies when cancer has spread throughout the bones and when traditional treatments fail to control pain.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a class of medicines known as radioimmunotherapy agents for advanced lymphoma. The technique uses monoclonal antibodies loaded with therapeutic radioisotopes directed to specific cancers. Radioimmunotherapy continues to advance a type of cancer treatment that combines the targeting power of monoclonal antibodies with the cell-killing ability of localized radiation. Yttrium-90 and I-131 labeled radioimmunotherapy agents (Zevalin and Bexxar) are offered at Goshen Center for Cancer Care.

Recently, we initiated a radioimmunotherapy protocol (Y-90 hPAM4) to treat patients with advanced pancreatic cancer that cannot be treated with surgery.

We can help you

To find out how we treat cancer, talk with our cancer experts at Goshen Center for Cancer Care, (888) 492-(HOPE).