CADTH is committed to supporting Canada’s health care decision-makers through this challenging and uncertain time.
For evidence, tools, and resources related to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Evidence Portal.


Begin main content

Yttrium 90 Microspheres for Advanced, Recurrent, or Inoperable Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Review of Clinical and Cost Effectiveness

Last updated: April 5, 2021
Project Number: RD0059-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Medical Device
Report Type: Peer-reviewed summary with critical appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of 90Y microspheres for TARE of intermediate- or advanced-stage hepatocellular carcinoma?
  2. What is the cost-effectiveness of 90Y microspheres for TARE of intermediate- or advanced-stage hepatocellular carcinoma?

Key Message

Transarterial radioembolization using yttrium-90 (90Y) microspheres is a therapeutic option for patients with intermediate- or advanced-stage hepatocellular carcinoma, including those with recurrent or inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma. Overall, the evidence suggests that patients treated with 90Y-based transarterial radioembolization may experience no difference in overall survival, progression-free survival, and tumour response when compared to patients who received transarterial chemoembolization therapies or systemic treatment with sorafenib or lenvatinib. Patients treated with transarterial radioembolization generally experienced similar rates of adverse events compared to those treated with transarterial chemoembolization, although there were some instances where treatment with transarterial radioembolization led to increased or decreased risks of specific adverse events. The comparative safety of transarterial radioembolization versus systemic treatment with sorafenib was unclear as the included studies did not statistically compare the risks of experiencing adverse events. Evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of 90Y microspheres for treating hepatocellular carcinoma is conflicting. Three economic evaluations suggest treatment with transarterial radioembolization is likely to be cost-effective or dominant less costly and more effective compared to transarterial chemoembolization or systemic therapies, while a single economic study suggested treatment with sorafenib or lenvatinib is most likely to be cost-effective or dominant compared to transarterial radioembolization.