In this review paper, available data on radioembolization of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) using commercially available radiopharmaceuticals, respectively 131I-Lipiodol, Therasphere (glass-microspheres) and SIRspheres (resin-microspheres) are reviewed. In the palliative setting, 131I-Lipiodol was shown to yield response rates of 17- 92% which in patients with portal vein thrombosis (PVT) translate into a survival benefit as evidenced by a phase III randomized trial. Furthermore, in terms of efficacy, 131I-Lipiodol is as efficacious as trans-arterial chemoembolization (TACE) but far better tolerated. In the adjuvant setting, improved recurrence-free and overall survival when compared to surgery alone have been reported but these results warrant confirmation by randomized prospective trials. Similar to 131I-Lipiodol, when administered in a palliative setting, radioembolization using 90Y microspheres was proven effective for selected cases of non-resectable HCC and well tolerated. Available data suggest that Therasphere treatment outperforms TACE both in terms of response as in terms of event-free survival in unresectable HCC. However, this finding needs confirmation by randomized prospective trials. Therasphere treatment was also shown to limit progression of HCC allowing potential candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) more time to wait for donor organs as well as to downstage the HCC disease to such an extent that patients that were initially not, as yet become eligible for OLT with a gain in survival. Finally, Therasphere was shown to be safe and efficacious in HCC patients presenting with PVT, reason for which approval was granted for this indication by the FDA.
Keywords: Radioembolization, HCC, 131I-Lipiodol, Therasphere, SIR-spheres, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, radiopharmaceuticals, glass-microspheres, resin-microspheres, portal vein thrombosis, trans-arterial chemoembolization, 90Y microspheres, orthotopic liver transplantation, liver tumor, Cirrhosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, partial hepatectomy, serum bilirubin levels., local ablative therapies, radiofrequency ablation, lymph node, systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy, sorafenib, liver parenchyma, iodized ethyl ester, poppy seed oil, Lipiocis, tumor cells, tumor vasculature, endocytosis, cisplatin, serum alpha-fetoprotein, angiography, necrosis, albumin, acute cholecystitis, abdominal pain, cholecystectomy, tumor necrosis
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