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St. Joseph’s Interventional Radiologists Prolonging Life with Cancer Treatment

Two years ago, Gary Buss didn’t think he would leave Tampa again because of his liver cancer diagnosis.

“Instead, I’ve spent the last couple of years traveling the country in an RV with my wife, something I never thought I would be able to do,” Buss says.

That’s because an outpatient cancer treatment called Y90 radioembolization has not only added years to his life but allowed him to get cancer treatment without interrupting his quality of life. 

“When I was diagnosed with liver cancer I didn’t even know that I had cancer,” says Buss.  “It was caught in time and this cancer treatment allows me to continue with my life.”

For years, St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Cancer Institute has been using Y90 procedures to treat patients with liver tumors. The multifaceted procedure includes embolization of the treatment site, performed by a member of St. Joseph’s interventional radiology team, creating a clear pathway to the tumor itself.  Then, interventional radiologist Brian J. Montague, M.D. injects millions of microscopic beads that are coated with radioactive material directly into liver tumors. The beads selectively go into the tumors and destroy them, while preventing spreading to other parts of the liver and surrounding organs.

“This treatment is ideal for those patients with liver tumors who are not surgical candidates, and those who are not responding well to chemotherapy,” says Montague.

The technology was approved for treatment of colorectal cancer but many physicians have used the technology to treat many types of cancer with the same goal: control, reduce or eliminate the cancerous masses. These days, Y90 treatment is expanded for many different types of liver tumors.

“With this treatment, we are giving patients with liver tumors much more quality time, with minimal intrusion on their lifestyle,” says Montague.  “This treatment is proven to significantly prolong survival in patients who are running out of options.  I’ve treated patients with prognosis of less than one year who have lived four or five years.”

Many health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover Y90 treatment.

“We’re giving people months and even years of life to spend with their families – and giving them good quality of life.  There are no chemotherapy side effects, the procedures are very well tolerated and are performed on an outpatient basis.  Right now there are no other treatment options with this much impact on our patients’ quality of life,” says Montague. 

Says Buss, “I haven’t noticed a difference in my life because I’m doing everything I did prior to being diagnosed with cancer.  I’m still able to travel with my wife and the outlook is good for prolonging my life.”

Montague is part of an experienced radiology team that includes Troy Woeste, M.D., Matthew Berlet, M.D., Peter Bernstein, M.D., Kelly VanEpps, M.D. and Glenn Stambo, M.D.  In addition to numerous cancer therapies, other procedures performed by this highly specialized team include arterial and venous angioplasty/stenting, uterine fibroid embolization, varicose vein ablation, peripheral vascular disease treatment, hemodialysis intervention, stroke intervention and more.

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