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House Call: Advancements in Treating Metastatic Cancer

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Cone Health Cancer Center has been using the latest advancements in the field of interventional radiology and a cutting-edge form of therapy to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, known as Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT). 

While most forms of radiation therapy are administered externally, this form of radiation is delivered internally.  The liver can only tolerate small doses of external radiotherapy, so targeting the tumors internally can deliver a larger dose of radiation directly over a longer time than is possible with external beam radiation.

During a SIRT treatment, millions of tiny radioactive microspheres are injected into the main artery that supplies liver tumors, and because of their small size and weight, are taken by the blood flow to the small blood vessels surrounding the tumor where they lodge. Radioactivity is then delivered directly to the tumor cells in order to destroy them. This has provided new hope for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, as it has increased survival rates. 

The potential side effects of SIRT are also significantly less intense than those of past treatments used to treat this form of cancer.  Currently, SIRT has only been FDA-approved for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer of the liver; however, research efforts and studies are currently focused on measuring the effectiveness of SIRT used as a first-line of therapy rather than a later option in treatment, as well as using this form of therapy for other forms of cancer.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Glenn Yamagata is an interventional radiologist at Greensboro Radiology and a member of the Cone Health Medical Staff.  Dr. Yamagata is a 1993 graduate of University of Rochester School of Medicine.  He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at Maine Medical Center and a fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.