Radiation Therapy for Colorectal Cancer

Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer, as well as offer relief from some of the symptoms of cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. SIR-Spheres®: Selective Internal Radiation Sphere Therapy and TheraSphere® are two therapies often used for colon cancer treatment.

SIR-Spheres®: Selective Internal Radiation Sphere Therapy

For primary colon cancer that has spread to the liver, physicians can offer a new alternative. Imagine millions of microscopic radioactive resin beads (spheres) traveling through the blood-stream with one mission: to target and destroy advanced liver metastases. In this non-surgical, outpatient therapy, a catheter is placed in the femoral artery of the upper thigh and threaded through the hepatic artery. Through this catheter the microscopic spheres are delivered directly to the tumor where they become trapped.

For about two weeks, the injected spheres radiate the tumor, destroying the cancerous cells from the inside. SIR-Spheres® can safely deliver many times more radiation than conventional techniques. While SIR-Spheres® therapy is not considered a cure, it can extend survival, sometimes by years, and improve patients’ quality of life. In some cases, it can also shrink the liver tumors enough to allow for surgical removal.

TheraSphere® Therapy

TheraSphere® is a similar therapy using microscopic glass microspheres to target liver tumors. This selective internal radiation therapy delivers radioactive glass beads directly to the liver tumor, for effective concentration of radiation and minimal impact to the surrounding nontargeted tissue. SIR Spheres® and TheraSphere® treatments are a collaboration of experienced medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and interventional radiologists.