Living with cancer blog

Trial uses TheraSphere for the treatment of liver metastases

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. July 10, 2014

Mayo Clinic is studying a new way of treating colorectal cancers that have spread to the liver.

TheraSphere is a targeted way of delivering radiation through tiny glass beads containing radioactive yttrium-90.

The radioactive glass beads are only about 20-30 micrometers in diameter — about a third of the width of a human hair — and are delivered directly into the liver tumors.

TheraSphere uses radioactive microspheres that emit radiation over a period of several weeks. TheraSphere treatment is also referred to as radioembolization or selective internal radiation therapy.

TheraSphere is delivered into the hepatic artery of the liver through a catheter. The tiny radioactive beads flow directly to the liver tumor via the blood where they lodge into the small blood vessels of the tumor. The radiation destroys the tumor cells from within the tumor with minimal impact to the surrounding healthy tissue of the liver.

A new study is open at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and others around the country using TheraSphere to treat people who have a diagnosis of colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver.

For this study, people who have disease progression with oxaliplatin or irinotecan based first line chemotherapy and are eligible for treatment will receive second-line standard-of-care chemotherapy with either an oxaliplatin-based or an irinotecan-based chemotherapy regimen. The patient's primary tumor (the colorectal cancer) must be unresectable and stable.

Those with previous radiation therapy to the liver aren't eligible. Neither are people who have cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Additional inclusion and exclusion criteria apply.

For more information, please call the Mayo Clinic Clinical Trials Referral Office at (855) 776-0015. If you'd like to see if this trial is offered in your area, you can search for clinical trial NCT01483027 on


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

July 10, 2014