In radio embolization, also called internal radiation therapy, tiny glass or resin beads, called microspheres, are placed inside blood vessels that feed a tumor in order to block the blood supply to the tumor and deliver a high dose of radiation to kill the tumor.
An experienced radiation oncology team at Johns Hopkins specializes in radioembolization, specifically TheraSphere. As part of a larger multi-disciplinary oncology team that consultatively diagnoses and treats cancer, our team of radiation oncology specialists, including physicians, medical physicists, dosimetrists, nurses, and therapists, creates an individualized radiation therapy plan developed for each patient’s specific needs.
The safety and well being of our patients and their families are always the primary concern of every member of the radiation oncology team. We have developed a comprehensive safety program that is unique to Johns Hopkins. As an international leader in radiation safety, our standards for safety serve as an example for other academic and community-based radiation practices. Our safety program not only complies with state and national protocols, it goes well beyond those protocols by integrating innovative safety techniques developed by experts on our staff.
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TheraSphere, a type of radio embolization, is a relatively new radiation treatment for primary liver cancers and cancers that have spread to the liver, including breast, colorectal, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Glass beads are delivered to the tumor site in the liver, via a catheter that is threaded through blood vessels and arteries. This delivery system allows the doctor to precisely place the TheraSphere beads directly into the blood that supplies the liver. The treatment is an outpatient procedure that leaves the patient in no pain and with only mild side effects. Once the beads are placed, they deliver a high dose of radiation for several weeks, after which they become inert, no longer emitting significant radiation.
The benefits of TheraSphere treatment include:
- One-time outpatient procedure
- Targeted to the tumor site, reducing damage to surrounding organs and tissues
- Potentially fewer side effects than traditional radiation treatments
- May allow for future treatments and procedures as needed
- May shrink the tumor enough to make surgery possible