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Chemoembolization

Chemoembolization

Applications: Primary Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma)

Secondary Liver Cancer (Colon, Breast, GI tract, Neuroendocrine)

Chemoembolization is a method used to deliver chemotherapy medication directly to liver tumours – either primary tumours that originated in the liver, or metastases that migrated to the liver from cancers at other sites, such as colon, neuroendocrine tumours and breast. Even in cases where chemoembolization is not curative, this approach relieves patient’s symptoms and extends survival.

The procedure is performed by inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the patient’s groin and advancing it into the specific artery supplying the liver. Contrast, or a special type of dye, is injected and this visualises the tumour and blood vessels on an X-ray to determine the blood supply to the tumour.

The Interventional Radiologist then injects cancer-drug eluting embolic particles through a catheter selectively placed into the artery feeding the tumour. This mixture keeps a high concentration of medication in contact with the tumour for a period of time longer than that associated with traditional systemic chemotherapy. After the treatment is administered, the catheter is withdrawn, and the patient can usually return home after an overnight stay in the hospital. Chemoembolization offers several advantages over traditional systemic chemotherapy: Prolonging the time the medication stays in contact with the tumour – up to as much as a month – increases the treatment’s effectiveness. Moreover, because the medication is delivered only to the tumour – rather than administered throughout the patient’s bloodstream – healthy tissues are spared from side effects, allowing us to administer dosages that are greater than those used in conventional chemotherapy, without the systemic side effects. New embolic particles not only hold the chemotherapeutic medication in place, but also block the blood supply to the tumour – depriving it of oxygen and nutrients and thereby halting its growth.

The Beacon Hospital Interventional Radiology Group have particular expertise in the treatment of colon-related liver metastases by combination emobolization and RF ablation therapy which has now become a gold standard for treatment of non-operable metastases.