According to researchers, a new treatment has been effective for inoperable liver cancer. It is a year since TheraSphere was launched at the University of Texas and it is showing a 25 per cent success rate in either reducing tumour size or the number of tumours. Till date, it has many patients have undergone this treatment with advanced liver tumours, who cannot be treated by any other means.
TheraSphere involves injecting millions of microscopic glass beads containing the radioactive element yttrium into the femoral and hepatic arteries. The beads travel to the liver and deliver the radiation there, killing cancer cells. The treatment has been found to work best with colorectal or gastrointestinal tumours, and less well with larger liver tumours or those involving the bile duct.
An exciting development is that the researchers have found they can dramatically decrease side effects by better targetting of the beads and by splitting the dose, so that only certain sections of liver are irradiated. It is also easier on the patient that TheraSphere is an outpatient treatment requiring no surgery. Given that fewer than 10 per cent are suitable for conventional cancer surgery because of the nature of their tumours, the TheraSphere offers them the first real hope of survival.