Liver Metastases (Secondary Liver Cancer): Radiation Therapy

Doctors sometimes use radiation therapy to help control liver metastases that cannot be surgically removed or are too large to be treated effectively with ablation.

Our radiation oncologists work with specialists from our department of medical physics to develop a treatment plan just for you using the latest techniques to deliver radiation directly to the tumor and minimize damage to healthy tissue.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy and stereotactic body radiation are two approaches that have the potential to reduce damage to normal tissue during treatment for liver metastases.

  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    IMRTuses beams of radiation of varying intensity that mold to the shape of the tumor. Sophisticated computer software and 3-D images from CT scans enable the doctor to focus radiation on cancerous tissue with greater precision than in conventional radiation therapy.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy
    This technique uses a highly focused radiation field to deliver larger doses of radiation in fewer treatments. It combines IMRT and image-guided radiotherapy using tiny gold markers implanted into the tumor to act as visual signposts. A CT scan reveals the exact location of the markers, helping guide radiation to the tumor.

Respiratory Gating

Because tumors and organs in the abdomen shift during breathing, precise delivery of radiation to cancerous tissue can be difficult. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering use motion-management techniques to better target liver metastases while sparing healthy tissue.

Respiratory gating is one such technique. It delivers radiation only at certain points during a patient's breathing cycle. In another technique, called abdominal compression, a compression belt is used to apply pressure to the abdomen to minimize tumor movement.

Our researchers are also evaluating the use of anesthesia to minimize respiratory motion during radiation treatments.