Diseases and treatments

Cancer treatment

Selective internal radiation therapy


Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), sometimes called radioembolization, is a treatment that is used to destroy tumors. The interventional radiologist  treats the cancer by tiny delivering tiny radioactive beads directly to the tumor through the arteries. The doctor makes a tiny cut in the skin and inserts a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the femoral artery (the large artery of the leg). The catheter is then maneuvered into place, guided by live x-rays. Once at the tumor site, the doctor injects the radioactive beads into the blood vessels that supply the tumor. The beads give off radiation over a very short distance. This concentrates the radiation inside the tumor, helping to reduce radiation exposure to the rest of your liver, as well as the rest of your body. 

SIRT is an effective option for patients with a cancer that cannot be removed by surgery. It is commonly used to treat cancers of the liver called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or cancer that has spread from another organ and entered the liver (metastatic tumors).


This treatment may also be referred to as Y-90 because it commonly uses a radioactive isotope called yttrium 90.