Radiomebolization is a form of cancer treatment. In this procedure, radioactive particles are sent through the bloodstream to stick to the tumor and emit radiation to destroy the cancer cells. It is most often used in treating liver cancer. The types of liver cancer that are most often considered for this treatment are metastatic colorectal cancer in the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Metastatic colorectal cancer in the liver is the type of liver cancer that first developed in the colon. Hepatocellular carcinoma, meanwhile, is the a type of liver cancer that first arises in the liver. Radioembolization can also be used to treat other forms of cancer that affect the liver such as cholangiocarcinoma, lung or breast cancer with liver metastasis, and neuroendocrine tumors like carcinoid tumors that have reached the liver.
Radioembolization is also used in combination with other forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and surgery. It can also be used for cancer patients who are not able to undergo these forms of cancer treatment. For example, it can be used for tumors in the liver that are too big for surgery. Radioembolization shrinks the tumors first so they can be removed surgically more easily.
In other cases, this treatment method is used as a secondary option for patients who do not respond well to chemotherapy. Researches are still being done to find out more viable used for this treatment.
Radioembolization is done through a procedure called angiogram. The doctor will insert a catheter into an artery located in the groin. Using an X-ray to guide the catheter's way, it is moved into the blood vessels that supply the tumor in the liver. After this, liquid that contains radioactive particles are injected. These particles go to the tumor to block the flow of blood to the cancer cells. The objective is for them to kill and shrink the tumor.
The only drawback is that the healthy parts of the liver sustain damage from the radiation. Good to know that in most cases, the damage is only minimal. Also, the radiation in the particles goes away after a month. The remnant particles can stay there for the rest of the person's life.
Before one can undergo this procedure, tests are done to ensure safety as well as predict rate of success. First, routine blood test and blood flow evaluation are done. There is also an initial angiogram that serves as a test run. This will enable the doctor to find out if the liver and abdominal arteries are apt for the procedure or not.
It's also important to know about the side effects of this process. Although it has a low rate of side effects, potential complications may include severe ulcers in the small intestine or stomach, gallbladder failure, liver failure, low white blood cell count, and radiation damage to the lungs or liver. The tests performed prior to the procedure don't only increase the success rate but also reduce risks of complications such as these mentioned.