What is yttrium-90 SIRT therapy?

Yttrium-90 SIRT therapy, or Selective Internal Radiation Therapy, is used to treat liver cancer.

The aim of the treatment is to:

  • Reduce the size of tumours that can’t be operated on i.e. inoperable tumours.

or

  • Decrease the number of abnormal cells (lesions) in the liver

Occasionally the treatment may mean the tumours can be removed surgically.

How does yttrium-90 SIRT therapy work?

Yttrium-90 is an isotope that emits beta radiation. It’s injected via the main blood vessels in the liver. The radiation damages the cancer cells, and over time this reduces the size of the tumour(s) and prevents the cancer spreading further (metastasising).

Further information

The radiation used in this therapy is designed to damage and kill the cancer cells. As the yttrium-90 travels to the tumours, it targets the unhealthy cells in the liver. Any damage to healthy tissue is minimised.

The radiation disappears within about a month.

Like all cancer treatments, there can be some side-effects. They are usually mild but may include occasional abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness and nausea.

Swelling is a rare potential side-effect. You may also experience ulceration (sores) on some internal organs, (e.g. the gallbladder, stomach, intestine or pancreas). You’ll be able to discuss any potential side-effects with your doctor before you have your treatment.

You may be offered yttrium-90 SIRT therapy if your liver tumours are inoperable due to the size, location, and/or the number of tumours present, or as an alternative to externally delivered radiation.

It can also be used to treat a liver tumour that is no longer responsive to chemotherapy , or as an alternative to ablative therapy.

Your doctor will explain precisely what’s involved, including any side-effects.

The radiation used in this therapy is designed to damage and kill the cancer cells. As the yttrium-90 travels to the tumours, it targets the unhealthy cells in the liver. Any damage to healthy tissue is minimised.

The radiation disappears within about a month.

Like all cancer treatments, there can be some side-effects. They are usually mild but may include occasional abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness and nausea.

Swelling is a rare potential side-effect. You may also experience ulceration (sores) on some internal organs, (e.g. the gallbladder, stomach, intestine or pancreas). You’ll be able to discuss any potential side-effects with your doctor before you have your treatment.

You may be offered yttrium-90 SIRT therapy if your liver tumours are inoperable due to the size, location, and/or the number of tumours present, or as an alternative to externally delivered radiation.

It can also be used to treat a liver tumour that is no longer responsive to chemotherapy , or as an alternative to ablative therapy.

Your doctor will explain precisely what’s involved, including any side-effects.

Our cancer specialists