Italian cancer researchers demonstrate efficacy of radioactive microspheres against liver metastases
Rome/Sydney – A novel therapy based on Yttrium-90-loaded beads has been shown to be safe and effective in patients with inoperable colorectal cancer liver metastases (British Journal of Cancer 103: 324-331) in a phase II trial with 52 patients. As the study group, headed by Prof. Maurizio Cosimelli at the National Cancer Institute Regina Elena in Rome, demonstrated that liver tumours in one patient (2%) disappeared and that 11 patients (22%) showed a partial response – their tumours shrank by at least 30%. Additionally, a further 12 patients (24%) showed stabilisation of their disease. Liver tumours shrank in two patients (4%) far enough to make a potentially curative surgery can. The overall median survival was 12.6 months for all patients participating in the experiment. The cancer experts recorded a significantly longer survival in 24 patients (48%) responding to the SIR-spheres (Sirtex Medical Pty. Sydney) or where the disease was stabilized in comparison to patients as non-responsive (median 16 months versus 8 months, P = 0.0006). Furthermore, 40% of those who responded were still alive two years after treatment, compared to none of those subjects who did not respond. Light to moderate side effects, especially fever and pain appeared in 16% of patients in the first 48 hours and at 22% between the third and 30 Days reported. The study was conducted as a single-arm study, as this group of patients had no other treatment options. Each year 145 000 Americans and 307,000 Europeans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. About half of these patients develop metastases, mainly in the liver. Up to 90% of them die from liver failure. Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) with the use of yttrium-90 resin beads loaded is a new approach for treating liver metastases. The microspheres are implanted by interventional radiologists to selectively targeted tumours with radiation, while the vital healthy liver tissue is spared and preserved.