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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006;66(2 Suppl):S62-73.

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) for liver metastases secondary to colorectal adenocarcinoma.

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Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.



Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) is a relatively new commercially available microbrachytherapy technique for treatment of malignant hepatic lesions using (90)Y embedded in resin microspheres, which are infused directly into the hepatic arterial circulation. It is FDA approved for liver metastases secondary to colorectal carcinoma and is under investigation for treatment of other liver malignancies, such as hepatocellular carcinoma and neuroendocrine malignancies.


A modest number of clinical trials, preclinical animal studies, and dosimetric studies have been reported. Here we review several of the more important results.


High doses of beta radiation can be selectively delivered to tumors, resulting in impressive local control and survival rates. Ex vivo analyses have shown that microspheres preferentially cluster around the periphery of tumor nodules with a high tumor:normal tissue ratio of up to 200:1. Toxicity is usually mild, featuring fatigue, anorexia, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and slight elevations of liver function tests.


Selective internal radiation therapy represents an effective means of controlling liver metastases from colorectal adenocarcinoma. Clinical trials have demonstrated improved local control of disease and survival with relatively low toxicity. Investigations of SIRT for other hepatic malignancies and in combination with newer chemotherapy agents and targeted biologic therapies are under way or in planning. A well-integrated team involving interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, medical oncology, surgical oncology, medical physics, and radiation oncology is essential for a successful program. Careful selection of patients through the combined expertise of the team can maximize therapeutic efficacy and reduce the potential for adverse effects.

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