Just as Melbourne was emerging from its fourth COVID-19 lockdown, Peter Mac’s Cancer Imaging department reached a significant milestone.

The team, led by specialists Interventional Radiologist, Dr Philip Chan and Nuclear Medicine physician, Associate Professor Grace Kong, treated their first patient with Y90 radioembolisation at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Yttrium-90 (Y90) is a commonly used isotope within the nuclear medicine and radiation oncology communities for radiation therapy.

Also known as SIRT (Selective Internal RadioTherapy) and TARE (TransArterial RadioEmbolisation), Y90 radioembolisation is a rapidly evolving treatment option, where millions (up to 19 million) of carefully calibrated, highly radioactive microscopic beads are injected into the liver through the artery. Patients with primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) or metastatic disease from various cancers, such as bowel cancer and neuroendocrine tumours, often have disease confined to their livers and can benefit from this type of liver directed therapy.

The Interventional Radiologist consults with each patient, performs an angiogram of the liver and, an individualised, bespoke dose together with the Nuclear Medicine team. On treatment day, the team works tirelessly to ensure accurate dose and time delivery to the Angiography Suite. The time window is short, the process is complex, calculated and carefully choreographed.

Over the last year, it has taken an enormous amount of planning and coordination to get to this point.

This work was also supported by:

  • Nuclear medicine technologists: Ruth Nguyen, Nick Daw, Julia Keenan, Jason Callahan
  • Nuclear Medicine Physicians: Drs Ramin Alipour and Javad Saghebi
  • Interventional Radiologist: Dr Kwang Chin
  • Radiographers and radiology nurses: Amanda Nolidin, Val Rutas, Nimrod Amon, Nicola Ashford and Jenny Marcen
  • Administration staff: Rachel Meletis and Louise Osborne

“This is a very exciting time for the Interventional Radiology Team at Peter Mac. Y90 radioembolisation is a highly complex treatment that involves a lot of planning and is technically and logistically challenging. But it is a powerful tool against cancer. Dr Chan said.