SIRTEX treatment refers to selective internal radiotherapy (SIRT) or radioembolization to treat metastatic colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. With SIRT, tiny spheres (called microspheres) deliver radiation to cancer cells in the liver’s blood supply. This type of direct radiation spares healthy liver tissue.
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Why SIRTEX Treatment is Performed
Our experts may recommend SIRT as a treatment option for people whose metastatic liver tumor is inoperable — meaning it cannot be surgically removed.
Traditional forms of radiation therapy deliver radiation to a tumor from a machine outside the body. They are too toxic to healthy liver tissue to be a viable treatment option for liver tumors. SIRT can slow the progression of advanced colorectal cancer, reduce symptoms, and help you live longer. This treatment may also reduce the size of the tumor, making other treatments possible. We will perform several tests, such as a liver angiogram, to determine if you are a good candidate for SIRT.
What to Expect with SIRT in the Stockton Region
During SIRT, a Dignity Health radiologist will insert a microcatheter (a very narrow tube) into a groin artery, guiding it to your liver. Millions of radioactive beads (microspheres) flow through the catheter into the hepatic artery, which supplies blood to the liver. Microspheres are larger than a red blood cell but smaller than a liver cell. The SIRT microspheres enter tiny blood vessels within the tumor and give off a high dose of radiation that kills the blood vessels and the tumor cells themselves.
The procedure takes about an hour. You may go home the same day as treatment, but an overnight stay in our hospitals may be necessary. Your doctor might want to combine the SIRT treatment with chemotherapy, so you should discuss your full treatment plan with your doctor and nurse navigator before making a final decision.
Recovering from SIRTEX Treatment
After the SIRT procedure, you will remain lying down for four to six hours. You will have a nuclear medicine scan the next day to ensure the microspheres went to your liver. About six weeks later, you will need follow-up blood tests and a CT or PET scan to see how well the SIRT treatment worked.
As part of our advanced oncology services, Dignity Health Cancer Institute of Greater Sacramento offers SIRT throughout Northern California to treat colorectal cancer.