Liquid Radiation Offers New Treatment Opportunity


The team of physicians at Northeast Radiation Oncology Center (NROC) offers cancer patients in Northeastern Pennsylvania the opportunity to benefit from a new, state-of-the-art treatment known as radioimmunotherapy. This treatment, one type of radiation therapy commonly known as “liquid radiation,” has been featured in the New England Journal of Medicine and by ABC News.

What is radioimmunotherapy?

Radioimmunotherapy is a new type of targeted cancer treatment that combines a component of the immune system, such as a monoclonal antibody, with a source of radiation, such as a radioisotope, to treat patients with certain types of B-cell non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, (NHL). NHL is a form of cancer of the lymphatic sys tem. The names of the two radioimmunotherapy, or liquid radiation, treatments currently available are Zevalin and Bexxar. NROC radiation oncology physicians, working with their medical oncology physician colleagues, use Zevalin for NHL patients for whom this specialized therapy is appropriate.

How does radioimmunotherapy work?

Monoclonal antibodies, made by medical scientists, act like the natural antibodies in our immune system that recognize and attack bacteria and other foreign substances in the body. The monoclonal antibody used in Zevalin recognizes and attaches to the malignant cells in people with B-cell NHL. The radioisotope gives off the radiation that penetrates and kills the cancerous B-cells.

Where do patients receive this therapy?

Typically administered on an outpatient basis, Zevalin requires a radiation oncology treatment center especially licensed to administer therapies involving radioisotopes. NROC in Dunmore is the only facility in Northeastern Pennsylvania licensed to provide these stringently regulated radioisotope treatments. The course of treatment takes about a week, and requires the collaboration of several physician specialists, including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, and nuclear medicine professionals.

Who is eligible for radioimmunotherapy?

The Zevalin therapeutic regimen is indicated for certain patients with NHL who have not responded to conventional therapy, or for patients whose lymphoma has re-occurred after initially responding to therapy.

How effective is radioimmunotherapy?

The effectiveness of radioimmunotherapy for NHL patients was determined by a series of clinical research trials. According to Biogen, Inc., the overall response rate for patients receiving Zevalin in separate clinical studies was an encouraging 74% to 80%.