Y-90 Radioembolization (SIR-Spheres) results so far

NOTE: This appeared first on my blog at cyrilfb.com. I have been encouraged by our members to show my posts about the NET journey here as well.

One month ago, I received a treatment for my neuroendocrine tumor called Y-90 radioembolization.

Commercial product is called SIR-Spheres.

In radioembolization, tiny glass or resin beads called microspheres are placed inside the blood vessels that feed a tumor in order to block the supply of blood to the cancer cells. Once these microspheres, which are filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90, become lodged at the tumor site, they deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor and not to normal tissues. From RadiologyInfo.org for Patients/

This treatment was for a larger, more active tumor in my liver.

The procedure itself was quick (an hour) and painless. It was supposed to be day surgery so that I could go home that day. Instead, I had nausea so bad that I could not use oral pain meds (opoids! Don’t dis me), for two days the pain meds were given IV. Then I got to go home

Wait… Didn’t I have PRRT radioisotope treatment last year for this cancer?

Yes, I did (see Yesterday’s PRRT and follow the thread). Four treatments spaced over 8 months. The last was in August last year. Dr. Liu tells me that the PRRT acts like thousands of BBs throughout the body and does best against small tumors. This larger tumor actually grew during the treatments. He said the Y-90 treatment is like a bowling ball dropped on a very specific tumor in a specific site (in other words, a lot more radiation to a lot more specific place).

Side effects of Y-90.

  1. You will be radioactive for about 3 days. Stay away from other people. (What’s the big deal? We already do that this year.)
  2. These vary with patient but for me, there has been severe liver pain which took about three weeks to go away. There has also been a lot of nausea, stomach pain and gas and bloating which after four weeks has reduced some but not nearly enough for my normal functioning even with medication. If it continues, for more than another couple weeks, I will need to be checked for stomach ulcer which would happen if a few of the radioactive spheres escape the liver and travel through the blood system to the stomach. I am told it doesn’t happen often but does happen. If it is damaged by the radioactivity, I may have to take drugs for my stomach for a long time.
  3. A side effect specific to me was excessive worry because of the fact that I had chemoembolization (similar to above except with chemo instead of radioactivity) in 2011 and it caused a “carcinoid crisis(in my case it was blood pressure and heart rate both going very low and refusing to respond to treatment)” so bad that I very nearly died.

Results

Today, August 20, 2020, I saw Dr. Liu to discuss the results of an MRI and YIPPIE! The tumor is shrunk and may be completely dead! We will test again in three months. As stated above, if my stomach is not better, we will test that also. In the past, Dr. Liu has discussed the possibility of having me do chemo after the Y-90. It would probably be an oral treatment (captem – The combination of capecitabine and temozolomide) and might extend for years. He did not mention it in this meeting and I am happy to let that sleeping dog lie.

May we all have the best possible outcomes,
Cy

The Results of my GA-68 Scan

Dr. Eric Liu & Cy Ball 2017-06-02

Today, I met with Dr. Eric Liu and discussed my GA-68 scan results.  Both quite positive  and surprising results left me feeling very happy.  It could have been much, much worse.

  • Found my primary tumor after 6 years! Instead of a mid-gut carcinoid, I am now a pNET (pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor). I did not expect that. Although this is what killed Steve Jobs and is very often more dangerous than mid-gut carcinoid, it is not a great worry for me because it is small and at the very tail of my pancreas.  Dr. Liu says my pancreas looks as healthy as his.
  • There is some progression. There is some spreading of the disease to several places in my body. Dr. Liu calls them freckles. Nothing very serious it seems.
  • There are small tumors in my bone in a couple of places. The bone above my eye and two places in my spinal column (in bone, not on spinal cord! Whew!)
  • The CT scan was wrong last November. The tumors that did not show on that CT scan, though they had appeared in earlier scans, are still in my liver but not looking very active.
  • The nodules on my thyroid did not light up on the scan.  This means that they are not NETs.  I think Dr. Liu is convinced that they are a benign form of thyroid cancer.  We will continue to watch them.

We will change surveillance to a CT scan once a year and continue with the Sandostatin which is still working. If I get sicker or have more pain, the good scan indicates that I am a good candidate for PRRT (Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy). PRRT works identically to the GA-68 except the gallium 68 is replaced by lutetium 177 (Lutathera) which is much more radioactive and thus capable of killing the tumors. It should be approved in the U.S. within six months which probably means that I can avoid more surgeries.

You can find my explanation of what a GA-68 Netspot scan is here: About the GA-68 Scan

EDIT: There has been tremendous response to these two posts on social media. The most frequent question is “Where can I get a gallium scan?”.  The best resources for this that I can find are: Carcinoid Cancer Foundation: GA-68 LocationsNorthern California CarciNET: searchable map of the U.S.

All in all, I should be able to get on with  my life for a few years with minimal interference from this particular cancer.

May we all have the best possible outcomes,
Cy