Among patients with colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, treatment of the liver with TheraSphere® (yttrium-90 glass microspheres) appears to provide sustained stabilization of disease. These results were published in the journal Cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States. When colorectal cancer metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body), it often spreads to the liver. In some cases, these liver metastases can be surgically removed. In other cases, however, surgery is not an option and other approaches to treatment are required. Liver-directed therapies that may be considered include conformal radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, transarterial chemoembolization, and radioembolization with TheraSphere.
TheraSphere delivers radiation directly to the area of the liver that contains the cancer. Microscopic glass beads that contain a radioactive material are delivered through a catheter into the hepatic artery. The beads become trapped in the blood vessels that feed the tumor and deliver radiation to the tumor.
To explore the safety and efficacy of TheraSphere among patients with colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, researchers conducted a study among 72 patients with liver metastases that could not be surgically removed. In 60% of the patients, the liver was the only site of metastasis. Study participants each received an average of two TheraSphere treatments.
- Side effects of treatment included fatigue (61%), nausea (21%), and abdominal pain (25%).
- 40% of patients experienced a reduction in the extent of cancer within the liver.
- Cancer progression in the liver occurred a median of 15.4 months after first treatment.
TheraSphere may eventually expand the treatment options available to patients with liver metastases. The researchers note that further research is warranted, including studies that test TheraSphere in combination with systemic therapy.
Mulcahy MF, Lewandowski RJ, Ibrahim SM et al. Radioembolization of colorectal hepatic metastases using yttrium-90 microspheres. Cancer [early online publication]. March 6, 2009.