Date: March 27, 2023

ATLANTA (March 27, 2023) – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently completed its first Y90 (Yttrium-90) Radioembolization treatment for a pediatric patient with liver cancer through a collaboration with teams at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Interventional Radiology (IR). Children’s is one of only a few pediatric centers in the nation that offer this treatment to patients.

Described as an ‘inside out treatment’ for pediatric patients by Matthew Hawkins, MD, Director of Interventional Radiology at Children’s, Y90 is a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing small radioactive beads directly into the arteries, or blood supply, of a liver tumor, delivering precisely targeted, very high-dose radiation directly to the tumor. Delivering the radiation directly into the tumor’s arteries helping to avoid unnecessary radiation to the normal liver and other organs. This innovative therapy can be used to cure small liver tumors or shrink larger tumors to allow for easier surgical removal.

“Y90 treatment requires IR expertise and extensive collaboration with our liver team, oncology teams, diagnostic radiologists and anesthesiologists,” said Annie Gill, MD, Associate Director of Interventional Radiology at Children’s. “While common in the adult world, this type of treatment is newer to pediatrics, and ultimately, we hope Children’s will become a regional – and then national – referral center.”

This type of treatment – unique to the liver – can be performed as a two-part outpatient procedure. During the first procedure, the doctor inserts a tiny catheter into the artery in the groin and guides it to the arteries that supply the liver using an X-ray. This provides a roadmap of the blood vessels in and around the liver and allows for precise measurement of the radiation dose each patient needs.

During the second procedure, the radioactive particles/Y90 are injected into the catheter and delivered to the tumor. Because the radioactive beads stay deep inside the liver, little to no radiation leaves the patient’s body. Most of the radioactivity fades from the beads in 7–10 days, but the radiation may keep working on the tumor(s) for several weeks to months. The beads are not removed unless the liver tumor is surgically removed, or a patient receives a liver transplant.

More than 300 children and young adults are diagnosed with liver tumors each year in the U.S., according to Kathryn Sutton, MD, Clinical Director, Solid Tumor team at Scottish Rite Hospital. “Our team works closely with each family to develop the best treatment plan which typically includes chemotherapy and surgery. Adding Y90 treatment to our offerings at Children’s shows our dedication and commitment to providing innovative therapies for our patients.”

“We are excited to offer this unique treatment to our patients with liver tumors,” said Thomas Cash, MD, Director of the Solid Tumor Program at Children’s. “In the past, we’ve had to refer patients out of state, away from their families, support system and home, but now, patients can get the therapy they need right here in Atlanta.” The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is ranked among the top pediatric cancer programs in the county by U.S. News & World Report. The Solid Tumor Program is made up of medical and research professionals dedicated to treating solid tumors and developing new treatments for the future.

Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is a national leader among childhood cancer, hematology, and blood and marrow transplant programs, serving children and young adults. Recognized as one of the top childhood cancer centers in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center cares for more than 500 newly diagnosed cancer patients and treats nearly 2,000 unique sickle cell disease patients each year. Our program offers patients access to more than 380 clinical trials, including 28 innovative Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center investigator-initiated trials.