Saint Barnabas Medical Center is the first hospital in New Jersey
and one of only 15 major medical centers in the country to offer
this new and innovative protocol for the treatment of metastatic
liver cancer through intra-arterial radiation therapy or Selective
Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT). This therapy is indicated
for inoperable patients with liver cancer or metastases. SIRT
is a new tool in the treatment of tumors of the liver and has proved
to have many advantages over conventional external radiation and
helping prolong and improve the quality of life in such patients.
“Compared with traditional radiation or chemotherapy, the
treatment appears to have low level of side effects. We at
Saint Barnabas are pleased to be able to offer SIRT as another
potential treatment for patients with liver tumors. As the most
comprehensive multi-disciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancer Center
in New Jersey, SIRT will be incorporated into the individualized
care plan we put together for each patient.” explains Ronald
Chamberlain, MD, MPA, FACS, Chairman of the Department of Surgery
and Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center of the Saint
Barnabas Medical Center.
Unlike conventional external radiation beams that can only be
applied to limited areas of the body, Chamberlain says that SIRT
has the ability to deliver more potent doses of radiation directly
to the cancer cells over a longer period of time. For a small number
of patients, SIRT can cause enough shrinkage of the tumors allowing
for surgical removal at a later date.
The technique uses millions of tiny polymer (plastic) beads or
microspheres which contain a radioactive element called yttrium-90. The
spheres are inserted into the liver via a catheter and carried
by the bloodstream directly to the tumors in the liver where they
preferentially lodge in the small vessels feeding the tumor and
deliver their dose of radiation for a period of approximately two
weeks. Because the high dose of radiation from the spheres is selectively
delivered to the tumor, other parts of the body usually are not
“It’s a highly targeted treatment injected right into
the liver. The risk to normal tissue is extremely low,” explains
Raquel Wagman, M.D., radiation oncologist, who along with Dr. Chamberlain
and radiologist Cornelius McCarthy, M.D. and Michael Kaplan, forms
the multidisciplinary treatment team.
The procedure to deliver the spheres is short and done with local
anesthesia; it usually does not require an overnight hospital stay.
To find out if you are a candidate for SIRT, please contact the
Gastrointestinal Cancer Center of New Jersey at Saint Barnabas, (973)
322-5550, to make an appointment.
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