Understanding SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres

If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with colorectal cancer that has metastasized to the liver, it is important to understand the options for treatment.

The hard truth is that more than 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year. More than half of these patients will see their cancer spread to the liver and many will die of this disease. 1, 2

Clinical studies have confirmed that patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with SIR-Spheres® Y-90 resin microspheres have a response rate higher than with other forms of treatment, resulting in increased life expectancy, greater periods without tumor activity and improved quality of life. SIR-Spheres also known as Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) has been found to shrink liver tumors more than chemotherapy alone. 3-5 

SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are administered through a small catheter and inserted into the femoral artery.

SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are an FDA approved medical device intended for the treatment of colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver and cannot be surgically removed. These microscopic polymer beads travel easily through the bloodstream directly to the liver where they become lodged in the tumor and kill the cancer cells.

This form of therapy delivers a dose of internal radiation up to 40 times higher than conventional external therapy, while sparing healthy tissues.6

The SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres procedure typically lasts 60 to 90 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure by an interventional radiologist. This minimizes the time spent at the hospital and allows for more time living a normal life. Patients will be sleepy during the procedure but able to communicate with the doctor.

While the SIR-Spheres treatment is well-tolerated by patients and typically has little to no side effects, every patient reacts differently to treatments and some patients may experience unwanted side effects. 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. If symptoms do arise they normally subside within a week and medications can be prescribed to control these symptoms.

SIR-Spheres therapy is an option for patients who have shown a limited response or are no longer responding to other treatments. This therapy is a way for people with cancer to live a comfortable life and spend time with loved ones while maintaining a good quality of life. 5

It is normal to be scared and confused when it comes to treatment options. It is important to be informed and talk to your physician if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr. Islam Shahin, MD

Interventional Radiologist for Radiological Consultants Association

Islam Shahin, MD, Interventional Radiologist for Radiological Consultants Association has been recognized by his peers, D Magazine and Cambridge Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in all aspects of Interventional Radiology.

Dr. Shahin became involved in his profession because of his interest in medical imaging and the ability to perform complex surgical procedures using minimally invasive image guided techniques. He attributes his success to his education and dedication. He considers being able to stay up-to-date with technological advancements to be the most fulfilling aspect of his career.

Dr. Shahin received his MD from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (New Jersey) in 2000 and completed his residency and fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (New York) in 2005 and 2006, respectively. He is affiliated with the Society of Interventional Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America and The Western Angiographic & Interventional Society. Dr. Shahin stays current with the trends in his profession by attending training programs and reading industry-related publications.


1 Landis SH, Murray T, Bolden S, et al. Cancer Statistics. CA Cancer J Clin. 1999;49:8-31.

2 American Cancer Society.  Cancer Facts & Figures, 2013. Atlanta, ACS, 2013:  5

3 Jakobs TF, Hoffman RT, Dehm K, et al. Hepatic yttrium-90 radioembolization of chemotherapy-refractory colorectal cancer liver metastases. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2008;19(8):1187-1195.

4 Cosimelli M, Golfieri R, Cagol PP, et al. Italian Society of Locoregional Therapies in Oncology. Multi-centre phase II clinical trial of yttrium-90 resin microspheres alone in unresectable, chemotherapy refractory colorectal liver metastases. Br J Cancer 2010;103(3):324–331.

5 Seidensticker R, Denecke T, Kraus P, et al. Matched-pair comparison of radioembolization plus best supportive care versus best supportive care alone for chemotherapy refractory liver-dominant colorectal metastases. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2011 July 29. [Epub ahead of print]

6 SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are indicated for the treatment of unresectable metastatic liver tumors from primary colorectal cancer with adjuvant intra-hepatic artery chemotherapy (IHAC) of FUDR (Floxuridine).  SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres  are also approved for use in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the European Union, and Several countries in Asia for the treatment of unresectable liver tumors.

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