Targeted Treatment for Inoperable Liver Cancer

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) in Baltimore offers a treatment for inoperable liver cancer known as Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT).

SIRT is a non-surgical, outpatient therapy that uses radioactive microspheres, called SIR-Spheres®, to deliver radiation directly to the site of the liver tumors. This unique, targeted therapy spares healthy tissue while delivering up to 40 times more radiation to the liver tumors than would be possible using conventional radiotherapy.

Our physicians are very experienced at using microscopic beads to treat inoperable liver cancer. In 2000, UMGCCC was the first center in the nation to successfully perform liver-directed therapy with TheraSpheres — which used microscopic glass beads to deliver radiation to liver tumors. SIR-Spheres, developed by the Sirtex Medical, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for patients with primary colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. It is the latest of a wide range of liver-directed therapies we offer to best meet our patients' needs.

Our Liver-Directed Therapies Program includes a full array of treatment options for patients with primary and metastatic liver cancer. In addition to SIRT and traditional surgery, chemotherapy and radiation approaches, these treatment options include:

  • Radiofrequency ablative therapy
  • Chemoembolization
  • Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

Treatment with SIR-Spheres is generally not regarded as a cure. However, when combined with chemotherapy, SIR-Spheres has been shown to shrink liver cancer more than chemotherapy alone. This can increase patients' life expectancy and improve their quality of life. In some cases, SIR-Spheres shrinks patients' tumors down to the size where surgery becomes a possible treatment.

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