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Providing New Hope to Patients with Colon Cancer that Has Spread to the Liver

Providing New Hope to Patients with Colon Cancer that Has Spread to the Liver

If you or a loved one has colorectal cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the liver, it is important to learn the facts and evaluate treatment options.  A diagnosis of colorectal liver metastases can be overwhelming, but there is hope.

At South Florida Vascular Associates we offer a minimally invasive cancer treatment radioembolization using yttrium 90 (Y90) beads. This non-surgical treatment is most commonly used for advanced stage liver cancer (primary or metastatic). Y-90 beads are used in targeted radiation therapy, also known as selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) that selectively delivers a dose of internal radiation to liver tumors.

 Due to the liver tumor's unique blood supply, millions of tiny spheres are delivered directly to the tumors while sparing healthy liver tissue. The treatment requires a small incision in the groin and is administered via a very small flexible tube (microcatheter) into the liver.

Treatment Goals & Patient Benefits:

Published on  Heather’s Story: Colon Cancer that Spread to the Liver 

As a mother of five, Heather Bishop knows how to take on anything that life throws her way. However, on August 7, 2014, Heather learned of a new challenge she would have to face: stage IV colon cancer.

Earlier in 2014 Heather noticed that many of the symptoms she was experiencing were closely associated to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so she decided to schedule a doctor’s appointment. She explained to the doctor how she was feeling and what symptoms she noticed. While the doctor took note of these symptoms, he noticed a hard area under Heather’s rib cage. This area made it difficult for Heather to sit up straight, but she didn’t feel any pain. A CT scan was scheduled immediately and shortly thereafter a colonoscopy.

Heather soon learned that she had a tumor in her colon. Her liver was covered and the tumors had metastasized to her spine, skull, and hip. The doctor acknowledged that it was possible she could also have tumors in her lungs, but unfortunately the tumors were too small to conduct a biopsy.

At the end of August, Heather started chemotherapy. Although she was going through chemotherapy, the amount of cancer discovered in Heather’s liver concerned her doctor. He recommended she look into Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT). After consulting another doctor that had experience using SIR-Spheres® Y-90 resin microspheres, the doctors agreed that Heather was a great candidate. During off weeks of chemotherapy, Heather went in for her SIRT treatment. If she was more fatigued than normal, she didn’t notice. Out of all of the procedures and treatments, Heather believed that the SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres interrupted her life the least. She didn’t notice pain or discomfort. Instead, she felt remarkably better. Side effects of SIRT are generally mild, including tiredness, loss of appetite, mild fever, stomach pain, sickness, injection site soreness and diarrhea. There is no hair loss with this treatment. Most side effects following a SIRT procedure are minor, but a small number can be serious. Every patient is different in how he or she reacts to a treatment.

In late November Heather had her last procedure. Her father came to help with her five children as she recovered. By mid-December, Heather felt well enough to take care of her family. She still had help with meals and household responsibilities, but for the most part Heather could take care of herself and her children and even went on vacation. At her final follow up appointment, Heather’s doctor was so surprised by the massive change to her liver that he called in his nurse practitioner to see her, too. The doctor said he hadn’t seen results like that in five years.

When Heather found out about her stage IV colon cancer she was told that her colon wouldn’t kill her, but her liver probably would. Today, Heather believes that without SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres, her life would be dramatically different. Now, Heather shares her inspiring story with others in the hopes that they, too, can benefit from SIRT and have a greater chance of living a longer, healthier, and more productive life.

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