Radioembolization (Y90)

Radioembolization (Y90), also known as yttrium-90 radioembolization, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiation therapy to treat liver tumors. It's typically used for patients with primary liver cancer or metastatic liver cancer who are not candidates for surgery or other treatments.

When is the procedure recommended?

Radioembolization (Y90) is used to treat tumors that were initially formed in the liver or have spread (or metastasized) to the liver from another part of the body. Radioembolization can effectively treat tumors as a sole therapy, help make some tumors eligible for curative surgery, and improve the quality of life in patients with liver cancers.

How is the procedure performed?

During the procedure, the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 is inserted into tiny glass beads and injected into the tumor's blood supply. The beads accumulate inside the tumors and emit radiation to suppress tumor growth. The tumor dies, but the healthy part of the liver remains unaffected. 

Y90 treatment combines radiation therapy with embolization to destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. The procedure takes place on two or three separate days, depending on tumor and overall health.

What are the benefits?

  • Produces few side effects when compared to other liver cancer treatments
  • No surgical incision is necessary—only a small nick in the skin that does not need stitches
  • May prevent the progression of tumors and extend lives from months to years, while preserving a patient’s quality of life
  • Improves the chances of liver transplants for patients who might not otherwise be eligible 


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