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Press Releases

HOLY NAME HOSPITAL TREATS LIVER CANCER WITH "Y-90 SIRT THERAPY"

Date: 5/21/2009

Teaneck, NJ — Interventional radiologists and radiation oncologists at Holy Name Hospital are using an innovative, minimally invasive technique called radioembolization to treat inoperable primary and metastatic liver cancer. Holy Name Hospital is the only hospital in New Jersey and within the New York metropolitan area with a cancer program designed to treat both primary and metastatic liver tumors.

Radioembolization is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure conducted under imaging guidance that delivers precision-targeted therapy directly to cancerous liver tumors. The technique calls for the placement of a catheter through which millions of microspheres—minute particles that emit radiation—are directed into the blood vessels feeding the tumor. The microspheres become trapped in tiny capillaries, cutting off of the tumor’s blood supply and destroying malignant cells that are inaccessible via other techniques.

Holy Name takes a multidisciplinary approach to the procedure, engaging the collective skill of three teams: interventional radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology. By embracing the expertise and perspectives of multiple clinicians, every patient is assured of a treatment approach that is uniquely suited to him or her.

According to John Rundback, M.D., Director of the Interventional Institute at Holy Name and a board-certified interventional radiologist specializing in cancer treatment, radioembolization is one of the emerging technologies classified as SIRT, or selective internal radiation therapy. "SIRT therapies," he says, "are part of the next generation of 'smart' treatments, a name we give to therapies that pack a powerful blow to malignant cells while having only a minor impact on surrounding healthy tissue."

According to the American Cancer Society, liver cancer diagnoses in the U.S. have increased and are expected to continue rising. About 90 percent of patients have tumors that are non-resectable, not able to be removed by surgery. According to Dr. Rundback, radioembolization is an excellent option for these patients. It can also be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, such as chemotherapy or as a bridging technique prior to tumor radiofrequency ablation, surgery or transplantation.

"Radioembolization addresses the treatment challenges inherent to liver cancer because it is highly localized," explains Dr. Rundback. "Since radiation is delivered only to where it is needed, healthy liver tissue remains relatively unaffected. Furthermore, radioembolization patients rarely experience the fatigue, nausea and vomiting commonly associated with other treatments."

"For patients with primary or metastatic liver cancer, radioembolization is providing the best quality of life while slowing down the growth of tumors," he continues. "It also minimizes therapy-related discomfort, recovery time and side effects. This is treatment that can help patients live longer and better."