In terms of volume, Cooper is among the top six hospitals in the Northeast performing SIRSpheres Y90 radioembolization, a minimally invasive procedure that combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat both primary and metastatic hepatocellular cancer. Importantly, this means a growing number of patients have had—and continue to have—access to a treatment that’s been shown to extend survival and improve quality of life.
With radioembolization, tiny glass or resin beads filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 (Y90) are placed inside the blood vessels that feed a tumor. This allows the beads to be delivered directly by the blood supplying the cancer cells and delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing nearby normal tissue.
“While this procedure is not considered curative, it has been shown to allow the liver to survive about eight months longer than with conventional chemotherapy and can often allow patients to become surgical candidates when they weren’t before” says board-certified interventional radiologist Sabina Amin, MD, who works with oncologists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper to provide this state-of-the-art treatment.
“We’ve had some great successes; we now have patients who we have halted progression of their disease in the liver,” she adds.
The Y90 radioembolization procedure is indicated for treating inoperative liver tumors in patients with liver-dominant or liver-only tumors.
“Patients can have metastasis in other parts of the body as long as there are liver-dominant tumors,” Dr. Amin explains. She notes that Cooper has seen good results in treating cholangiocarcinoma, breast, renal, neuroendocrine, pancreatic, colorectal, and ovarian cancers that have metastasized to the liver, as well as primary hepatocellular carcinoma. Y90 radioembolization has been shown to be effective in treating metastatic uveal melanoma, too.
“It also allows for patients to undergo chemotherapy concurrently,” she continues, “so we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket. Instead, we can double down on the cancer in the liver.”
Dr. Amin notes that radioembolization enables physicians to radiate the tumor at a higher dose than can be delivered externally. “The radioactive isotope Y90 only penetrates 2.5 mm, sparing skin, bone and, often, normal liver tissue,” she says. “And we can retreat if new tumors appear, without the systemic effects of chemo.”
She also points out that while there are other options for treating liver cancer— including systemic chemotherapy, external beam radiation, stereotactic radiosurgery (CyberKnife®), or surgery, including transplantation—these are not always appropriate for every patient.
“Y90 radioembolization allows for progression-free survival within the liver, giving patients statistically significant improvement in survival and allowing them to maintain their quality of life and potentially stay on chemotherapy or qualify for surgical resection,” she adds.
This treatment is a collaboration between Cooper ’s Interventional Radiology Department and the team at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper. Cooper was the first hospital in South Jersey to offer SIRSpheres Y90 radioembolization nearly two years ago and today ranks among the top U.S. hospitals to offer it in terms of volume—a testament to the expertise that resides here. The other high-volume centers include Massachusetts General Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian, NYP/Columbia University Medical Center, and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
“We would be happy to evaluate patients in our clinic to determine if they are a candidate for Y90 radioembolization,” Dr. Amin says. “Referring physicians don’t have to be part of the Cooper system, nor do patients have to be seen by an MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist to obtain this treatment.”
“We are here to work in collaboration with community physicians and to make this life-extending treatment accessible to as many patients as possible,” she adds.
For questions about Y90 radioembolization or to refer a patient, Dr. Amin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 856.342.3094.