Yttrium-90 microspheres for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma: A review

Riad Salem*, Russell D. Hunter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


To present a critical review of yttrium-90 (TheraSphere) for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Medical literature databases (Medline, Cochrane Library, and CANCERLIT) were searched for available literature concerning the treatment of HCC with TheraSphere. These publications were reviewed for scientific and clinical validity. Studies pertaining to the use of yttrium-90 for HCC date back to the 1960s. The results from the early animal safety studies established a radiation exposure range of 50-100 Gy to be used in human studies. Phase I dose escalation studies followed, which were instrumental in delineating radiation dosimetry and safety parameters in humans. These early studies emphasized the importance of differential arteriolar density between hypervascular HCC and surrounding liver parenchyma. Current trends in research have focused on advancing techniques to safely implement this technology as an alternative to traditional methods of treating unresectable HCC, such as external beam radiotherapy, conformal beam radiotherapy, ethanol ablation, trans-arterial chemoembolization, and radiofrequency ablation. Yttrium-90 (TheraSphere) is an outpatient treatment option for HCC. Current and future research should focus on implementing multicenter phase II and III trials comparing TheraSphere with other therapies for HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S83-S88
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


  • Brachytherapy
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Microspheres
  • Radioembolization
  • Yttrium-90

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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