Patients with Advanced Liver Cancer Among Those Benefitting
Dr. Moin is one of the few specialists in the region performing Y-90 radioembolization.
Advances in medicine have created a wide range of new treatment options for a variety of conditions in recent years. Leading the way in the development of many of these groundbreaking tools, technologies, and techniques have been interventional radiologists.
“Interventional radiology (IR) is a specialty that gives us the ability to treat nearly every organ in the body with minimally invasive, targeted approaches,” explains Adnaan Moin, MD, a vascular and interventional radiologist at MedStar Harbor Hospital. “By harnessing the power of advanced imaging, we can see inside the body and treat complex conditions less invasively and with unprecedented precision. As a result, IR can reduce the length of hospital stays, minimize potential complications and save lives.”
At MedStar Harbor, Dr. Moin is now collaborating with medical and surgical oncologists throughout MedStar Health in the use of image-guided technology to treat cancer. “Interventional oncology is a growing field offering new minimally invasive treatment options for a variety of primary and metastatic solid tumors,” Dr. Moin says.
Today, the Interventional Oncology program at MedStar Harbor is one of the few in the region to offer patients with liver cancer a treatment option called Y-90 radioembolization, an alternative to surgery.
“The surgical removal of liver tumors offers the best chance for a cure but they are often inoperable because they are too large or have grown into major blood vessels or other vital structures,” Dr. Moin explains. “Sometimes, many small tumors are spread throughout the liver, making surgery too risky or impractical.”
Y-90 radioembolization, an outpatient procedure, combines the use of radiation therapy with a process called embolization in which blood vessels are blocked off to prevent blood flow. A catheter is inserted through a tiny incision in the femoral or radial artery until it reaches the hepatic artery, one of two blood vessels feeding the liver.
When the catheter is in place, millions of microscopic beads containing the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90 are released. The microspheres lodge in the smaller vessels that directly feed the tumor, stopping blood flow and emitting radiation to kill the tumor cells. The painless procedure is usually completed within an hour and the side effects are mostly limited to fatigue and loss of appetite.
“The liver is an ideal organ for this type of treatment since the hepatic artery is the one that most commonly supplies blood to the cancerous tumors,” says Dr. Moin. “While the procedure doesn’t cure the cancer, it can help extend the lives of patients with inoperable tumors and improve their quality of life.” He also points out that in some cases it may reduce the size of the tumor enough for it to be resected or for the patient to be evaluated for a liver transplant.
“A big benefit of this procedure and other interventional oncology treatments, such as chemoembolization and radiofrequency ablation, is that we can target the cancer tumor from inside the body,” Dr. Moin adds. “Interventional oncology gives clinicians another focused area of cancer care in which to collaborate.”