Tags: radioembolization | oncology | liver | radiation | sideeffects

Radioembolization: A Liver Cancer Technique with Minimal Side Effects

Wednesday, 02 April 2014 12:27 AM

Oncology deals with diagnosis, management, and prevention of cancer; oncology includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Oncology needs to develop a therapy or technique that has minimal side effects; the conventional treatments are linked to serious side effects. Radioembolization is a new technique in oncology developed to provide higher benefit with fewer side effects. Radioembolization includes a procedure where a catheter is inserted in artery, and under guided techniques, the medicine containing radioactive particles are pushed to the target organ, in this case, the liver. The radioactive particles then block the blood to tumor and emit radiations. These radiations, in turn, damage the DNA of cancer cells, causing cell death. The radiation emitted from these particles clears out in a few weeks.
As liver can have either primary liver cancer such as tumors arising from the liver only or secondary liver cancer where the primary focus is extrahepatic and then spreading to liver. The radioembolization technique is considered useful in both the primary as well as the secondary liver cancer in oncology.
Generally, some tests are done before going for radioembolization therapy. This radiation kills the targeted cancer cells. An angiography test can precede the radioembolization therapy to ascertain whether vessels can withstand this oncology technique of radioembolization. Radioembolization has been indicated for hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, breast cancer spread to liver, colorectal carcinoma spread to liver and neuroendocrine tumors.  There have been reports of the superiority of this oncology technique when used in coordination with chemotherapy and surgery for liver cancer. The liver cancers that are too big for surgery may be first treated with radioembolization before surgery is performed.  
Radioembolization has been proven to be a very safe and effective oncology technique. This special radiation therapy has fewer side effects compared to conventional oncology treatments. Some of the side effects associated with this oncology technique are nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and fever. These side effects are usually mild and disappear in a day or two. Very rarely, this oncology procedure has caused serious side effects like stomach and intestinal ulcer, liver and gallbladder failure, and low white blood cells in some patients. The sufferers can prevent these side effects by prior investigations. The advance in radioembolization procedure has led to high local concentration of radiation near affected cells without causing damage to the healthy tissue. These radiations are targeted to cancer cells in radioembolization. Yttrium 90 is generally used for ionizing radiation in radiation therapy.
At times, the radiations from these particles damage the lung tissues (radiation pneumonitis), and this is one of the serious side effects associated with this oncology technique.  

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Radioembolization is an oncology technique with selective radiations targeted at liver cancers. It has minimal side effects as compared to other procedures.
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 12:27 AM
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