Radioembolization (Y-90) is a minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer that combines embolization and radiation therapy. During Y-90 treatment, tiny glass or resin beads, containing the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90, are released via a small catheter inside blood vessels that feed the liver tumor(s). Once lodged deeply in the tumor vessels, the beads decrease the blood flow to the tumors while at the same time delivering a high dose of radiation to the tumor and sparing healthy tissue.
What You Can Expect After the Y-90 Procedure
After the procedure is completed, patients will recover in a separate room of the treatment center for approximately 2 to 6 hours. During that time, patients must keep their leg (the site of the catheter insertion) still to lower the risk of bleeding. Before patients leave the treatment center, their care team will ensure they are able to walk, eat, drink, and use the restroom properly. They will also make sure the patient’s pain and nausea are controlled, vital signs are stable, and they have a responsible adult to drive them home.
Following the recovery period, patients may undergo a CT scan or MRI every three months to assess the imaging response of the tumor to the treatment. Your interventional radiologist may also recommend follow-up visits including physical check-ups, and blood tests. During these follow-up visits, it is important to inform your doctor about any clinical changes or potential side effects.
Side Effects of Radioembolization (Y-90)
Side effects of radioembolization (Y-90) are typically mild as the procedure is generally very well tolerated. However, if side effects occur, they are usually transient and most patients resume normal activities within a few days.
Side effects following Y-90 may include:
- Mild to severe fatigue for up to 3 weeks after the procedure
- Mild pain in the upper right side of the abdomen that may spread to the shoulder or back
- Patients may experience nausea and decreased appetite for several days
- Patients may have a temperature of up to 101º F (38.3º C) for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure
- Bruising and soreness on the upper leg and down the thigh
Prior to the treatment, your doctor will speak with you about any potential risks and side effects.
Precautions to Take After Y-90 Treatment
Since patients will have received a radioactive treatment, there are a few simple precautions to take following the procedure.
For 24 hours following Y-90, patients should NOT:
- Use machinery or power tools
- Take medicines like tranquilizers or sleeping pills, unless your doctor prescribed them
- Make important decisions or sign legal documents
- Be responsible for children, pets, or an adult who needs care
- Submerge the puncture site in water until it is fully healed
- Scrub the puncture site
- Apply lotions, ointments, or powders to the puncture site
After the procedure, it is also not recommended to drive for two days and lift more than five pounds for 10 days. In addition, patients should refrain from doing heavy exercises for two weeks to prevent the site from bleeding.
Minimally Invasive Liver Cancer Treatments in New York
Because the liver is extremely sensitive to radiation damage, radioembolization (Y-90) allows patients with liver cancer to receive effective treatment without causing significant damage to healthy tissue. This treatment has also been shown to extend the lives of patients with inoperable tumors, reduce their symptoms, and improve their quality of life.
At USA Oncology Centers, our world expert doctors are skilled in radioembolization (Y-90), and other minimally invasive treatments for primary and secondary liver cancer. These leading-edge treatments may include transarterial chemoembolization and ablation therapy. To learn more about our treatment options, call us at 855.870.4747 or schedule an appointment with an interventional oncologist today.
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