Chemoembolization is a minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer that combines the direct delivery of concentrated chemotherapy and a blocking agent into the blood vessel that feeds the cancer. The potency of the anti-cancer drug is effectively increased in chemoembolization because the blocking agents, called emboli, help to render the cancer more susceptible to the chemotherapy by blocking the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tumor.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Chemoembolization works against cancer in two ways. Firstly, it puts a high dose of chemotherapy straight into the tumor, with less exposure to the entire body. Secondly, the procedure cuts the supply of blood to the tumor, trapping the anti-cancer drugs at the site.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Marc L. Friedman, MD, chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, and a team of imaging physicians, highly trained technologists and nurses perform this procedure in a hospital setting. Using X-ray guidance, a specially trained interventional radiologist inserts a thin tube, called a catheter, into an artery in the groin. Once the catheter is positioned in the branches of the artery that are feeding the tumor, the anti-cancer drugs and blocking agents are then injected, specifically targeting the tumor. Additional X-rays will be taken to confirm that the entire tumor has been treated. At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed and the tiny opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.
Below: Images of a renal (liver) artery embolization in a 64-year-old woman with a 3 cm renal cell carcinoma. The image on the left shows the cancerous tumor (arrow), which is a dark mass in the liver. The image on the right, post-chemoembolization, shows no such mass, indicating a successful chemoembolization.
Before Arriving for Your Procedure
You will be contacted by a member of our team the day before your exam (between 4 and 6 p.m.) and given instructions on how you should prepare and what time you should arrive. If you are not contacted, please call 310-423-0108 early in the morning of your procedure (such as 6 a.m.)
You should have your doctor's office fax all orders and lab results to Cedars-Sinai the day before your procedure: 310-423-0108.
You should plan to arrive two hours before your scheduled procedure (three hours if you have not had all your pre-op lab work done).
You should not eat anything from the midnight before your procedure.
You should consult with your physician about taking your regular medications prior to your exam. Some, such as Coumadin or Plavix, should not be taken before your procedure.
You will not be allowed to drive after the procedure, so you should arrange for someone to help you get home.
We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
Please wear comfortable clothing.
You will meet with an imaging physician who will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have.
After this discussion, you will be asked to sign a consent form for the procedure.
You must notify the nurse, technologist and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have, or if you are pregnant, prior to your exam.
A small sample of blood will be drawn for testing.
After Your Procedure
If you live more than an hour's drive from the hospital, you may need to stay overnight.
An imaging physician will review the images from your exam and write a report of the findings.
Your physician will be sent this report and will discuss the results with you.
To request copies of your images or report, please call 310-423-8000, option 2.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.