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IU School of Medicine explores options in treatment of liver cancer

  • April 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana University School of Medicine seeks participants for a clinical study comparing the effectiveness of adding a controlled dose of radiation to standard chemotherapy for the treatment of advanced liver cancer. 

Matthew Johnson, M.D., professor of radiology and imaging science and surgery, is a leading authority on the use of Y-90 radioembolization for the treatment of liver cancer. He has joined a group of nationally known physicians who are exploring the advantages of adding yttrium-90 as another weapon in the battle against cancer that has metastacized from the colon to the liver.

The minimally invasive procedure uses microscopic glass spheres to deliver the radioactive element Y-90 directly to the tumor in the liver. The spheres are injected through a catheter into a small artery that feeds the tumor in the liver. They emit radiation in a minute area, attacking the tumor cells but sparing healthy tissue nearby. Y-90 microsphere radioembolization is an FDA-approved procedure first used in the United States in 2002.

This study examines whether adding the Y-90 microspheres early in the treatment along with the standard chemotherapy is better than the chemotherapy alone.  

Nearly 25,000 people in the United States are diagnosed annually with primary liver cancer; another 150,000 receive a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. About 60,000 Americans develop metastatic colorectal disease each year and one of the primary places the cancer metastasizes is to the liver.

The clinical study, sponsored by Nordion, which makes Y-90 TheraSphere, is enrolling patients whose cancer has only progressed to the liver. Participants must be at least 18 years old, pass specific lab tests and have failed standard first-line treatment.

For additional information about the study, contact Tamiko MaGee, clinical research coordinator, at 278-7557 or trmagee@iupui.edu.  

Mary Hardin