Radioembolization refers to the treatment of liver cancer with the help of radioactive particles passed through the bloodstream to reach the tumor. The particles emit radiation for several days that destroys the cancer cells. Since the radiation forms only travel a short distance, its effect only reaches to the tumor and does not affect any other part of the body. This therapy is normally applied when the tumor cannot be removed through surgery.
Radioembolization is a process that is performed by a physician in an operating room, where a catheter is inserted into the artery and with image guidance, the catheter is directed towards the blood vessels that supplies the tumor to the liver. After detecting the vessels, the doctor then injects liquid that contains radioactive particles into the arteries, leaving the blood blocked and ceasing the flow of blood to cancer cells, which ultimately kills them. The radiation disappears over the time and the leftover particles stay inside forever.
Before the test, certain tests are done on the patient to ensure the chances of success depending on the health condition.
The procedure is very effective in removing cancer that has spread (metastasized) over the liver, lungs, breasts and pancreas, however, it is not a method to completely cure the disease, but to provide an improved lifestyle for the patient until death. The therapy is often used with other more established cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery.
After radioembolization, many people have experienced symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain along with loss of appetite, but these are usually mild, which can be treated with medications. As for some side effects, people rarely noticed severe issues after the therapy that includes
- Liver failure
- Severe ulcer in stomach or intestine
- Awfully low white blood cell count
- Damage to lungs or gallbladder due to radiation
- Infection, even after the antibiotics are given
These risks can be reduced with the help of tests performed prior to the procedure.
Post operative care
It is necessary that you avoid any direct contact with people around you, especially the children and pregnant women for a few days after radioembolization.
Use separate soap for bathing
Sleep in separate bed for the same time being
Double flush the toilet after the use
Have your x-ray done after 30 days