March 23, 2014
Y-90 Radioembolization Studied to Treat Breast Cancer Liver Metastases
March 24, 2014—The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) announced that yttrium-90 (Y-90) radioembolization of the artery that supplies the liver shows promise in treating breast cancer that has spread to the liver when no other treatment options remain. In this procedure, microbeads are administered into the blood stream, float out to the smaller vessels that feed the tumor, and emit cancer-killing radiation from inside the tumor. Because Y-90 is targeted directly to the tumor, radiation damage to healthy surrounding tissues is minimized. The study was presented at the SIR’s 39th annual scientific meeting in San Diego, California, and is available as Abstract 192 at www.sirmeeting.org.
According to SIR, this study is the largest of its kind to date. The investigators reviewed treatment outcomes of 75 women (ages 26–82 years) with chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer liver metastases that were too large or too numerous to treat with other therapies. Outpatient Y-90 radioembolization treatment was found to be safe and provided disease stabilization in 98.5% of the women’s treated liver tumors, according to the society’s press release.
“Although this is not a cure, Y-90 radioembolization can shrink liver tumors, relieve painful symptoms, improve the quality of life, and potentially extend survival,” commented Study Investigator Robert J. Lewandowski, MD. Dr. Lewandowski is Associate Professor of Radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. He added, “While patient selection is important, the therapy is not limited by tumor size, shape, location, or number, and it can ease the severity of disease in patients who cannot be treated effectively with other approaches.”
In the SIR press release, Dr. Lewandowski explained that approximately 235,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year, and of these, approximately half of the patients who develop metastatic disease will have cancer metastasize to the liver. Although chemotherapy is the standard treatment for these women, many will either have progressive liver disease despite multiple different treatment regimens, and others will not tolerate the side effects from toxic agents. Dr. Lewandowski noted that patients are currently considered for Y-90 radioembolization when they have no other treatment options.
“The value of Y-90 radioembolization in treating patients with nonoperative primary liver cancer and metastatic colon cancer has been demonstrated,” stated Dr. Lewandowski, adding that given the low toxicity and high disease control rates, this therapy is expanding to other secondary hepatic malignancies. “We’re looking to gain maximal tumor control while minimizing toxicity and preserving quality of life.”
In this study, imaging follow-up was available for 69 of the 75 women treated. In all of these women, liver tumors were growing prior to treatment. After radioembolization, there was disease control in 98.5% of the liver tumors, with a more than 30% reduction in tumor size for 24 women. The treatment also had few side effects.
Dr. Lewandowski concluded, “Y-90 warrants further study of its efficacy in providing supportive care to relieve patients of debilitating symptoms and control the progression of their disease.”