Only five facilities in Virginia offer Selective Internal Radiation Therapy
Roanoke, Va. (April 5, 2012) — Together, Carilion Clinic and Blue Ridge Cancer Care (BRCC), an 18-physician privately-owned practice and affiliate of The US Oncology Network, are offering a new therapy called Selective Internal Radiation (SIR) to patients with liver cancer that meet appropriate criteria. SIR-Spheres deliver targeted, internal radiation therapy directly to the tumor, while sparing normal healthy tissue. The Carilion Clinic/Blue Ridge Cancer Care team is one of only five teams in the state of Virginia currently performing this therapy.
SIR uses microspheres, the size of about one-third the diameter of a strand of hair, made of millions of polymer beads which contain the radioactive element yttrium-90. The microspheres are injected through a catheter, into the bloodstream that carries the microspheres directly to the tumor. The microspheres lodge themselves in the small vessels feeding the tumor, where they then release radiation.
"This is a novel new way to tackle large volume cancer where conventional treatments cannot be used or have failed," explained Robert Heath, M.D., radiation oncologist with BRCC. "Chemotherapy seldom controls liver disease forever. SIR-Spheres selectively irradiate the tumors and can give appropriate patients another option."
Research has shown that liver tumors feed off of blood from the hepatic artery while the portal vein provides blood to healthy liver tissue. SIR-Spheres are administered into the hepatic artery, allowing for more targeted delivery of radiation.
"Early clinical studies have been encouraging, showing improved survival rates and tumor response," said Tom Bishop, M.D., interventional radiologist at Carilion Clinic. "There have also been case reports of patients with primary liver cancer that have been down staged and made eligible for liver transplantation."
This new treatment option is performed on an outpatient basis at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in the interventional radiology suite. Patients generally tolerate the treatment well, with minimal side effects.
Both Heath and Bishop stress that this new procedure is the work of a coordinated, committed team that includes medical oncology, radiation oncology, interventional radiology and nuclear medicine.
Medicare covers SIR-Spheres for colorectal to liver, metastatic neuroendocrine tumors to liver, and hepato cellular carcinoma. The therapy is currently restricted in the treatment of other cancers, which are not reimbursed by Medicare.
About Carilion Clinic
Carilion Clinic is a not-for-profit healthcare organization serving nearly one million people in Virginia through hospitals, outpatient specialty centers and advanced primary care practices. Led by multi-specialty physician teams with a shared philosophy that puts the patient first, Carilion is committed to improving outcomes for every patient while advancing the quality of care through medical education and research. For more information visit www.carilionclinic.org/about.
About Blue Ridge Cancer Care
Blue Ridge Cancer Care (BRCC) is an independent private practice of 18 physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and blood disorders. BRCC's nine convenient locations throughout the southwest region of Virginia provide comprehensive and cutting-edge cancer care closer to where patients live. BRCC provides a number of services and treatments including medical oncology, radiation oncology, hematology, genetic risk assessment and clinical research. BRCC physicians have trained at prestigious medical schools and have developed a model for care that maximizes patient and family convenience. BRCC's team provides the optimal physician and emotional support for cancer patients and their caregivers, realizing that each cancer diagnosis is different and each treatment plan should be too.
Blue Ridge Cancer Care is united in healing with The US Oncology Network, one of the nation's largest community-based cancer treatment and research networks focused on advancing cancer care in America. As an affiliate of The US Oncology Network, BRCC is united with more than 1,000 physicians and 10,000 cancer professionals nationwide. Blue Ridge Cancer Care participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has helped to develop 43 FDA approved cancer therapies. For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.
About The US Oncology Network
The US Oncology Network is one of the nation's largest networks of community-based oncology physicians dedicated to advancing cancer care in America. Like-minded physicians are united through The Network around a common vision of expanding patient access to high-quality, integrated cancer care in communities throughout the nation. Leveraging healthcare information technology, shared best practices, refined evidence-based medicine guidelines, and quality measurements, physicians affiliated with The US Oncology Network are committed to advancing the quality, safety, and science of cancer care to improve patient outcomes. The US Oncology Network is supported by McKesson Specialty Health, a division of McKesson Corporation focused on empowering a vibrant and sustainable community patient care delivery system to advance the science, technology and quality of care. For more information, visit www.usoncology.com.
Allie Buth, Carilion Clinic
Jennifer McDonald, Blue Ridge Cancer Care
Chris Perez, McKesson Specialty Health