South Florida Interventional Oncology Center  
 
HEPATIC ARTERIAL CHEMOEMBOLIZATION: What is CHEMOEMBOLIZATION?

 
 
You have been diagnosed as having a tumor (cancer) in your liver.  This cancer may be a primary cancer of the liver itself or a cancer that has spread to the liver from somewhere else in your body (metastasized). Chemoembolization is a regional treatment of the liver for various types of liver cancers. In this treatment, a highly concentrated dose of chemotherapy drugs are injected into the artery feeding the tumor, white at the same time, the artery is plugged up (embolized) by a mixture of oil and tiny particles.  These particles cut off the blood supply to the tumor and trap the chemotherapy inside the tumor.  The tumor is deprived of food and oxygen and is exposed to a higher concentration of chemotherapy for a longer period of time than if the chemotherapy were given in any other way. Also, since the majority of the chemo stays in the liver you will have very little systemic side effects.

The blood supply of the tumor is injected with powerful Chemo agents & particles choking the tumor of nutrition & Oxygen as well as bathing the tumor cells with powerful chemotherapeutic drugs.


HOW DOES CHEMOEMBOLIZATION WORK?

The liver is unique in having two blood supplies, an artery (the hepatic artery) and a large vein (the portal vein). The normal liver gets about 75% of its blood supply from the portal vein and only about 25% of its blood supply from the hepatic artery. When a tumor grows within the liver, it receives virtually all of its blood supply from the hepatic artery. Therefore, a concentrated dose of chemotherapeutic drugs injected into the hepatic artery reaches the tumor directly, sparing most of the liver tissue. When the artery is blocked, nearly all of the blood supply is taken away from the tumor, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. The tumor remains bathed in the drug for an extended period while the liver continues to be supplied by blood from the portal vein. The procedure accomplishes three things:

The procedure accomplishes four things:

1.
Delivers very high concentration of chemo directly to the tumor.
2.
Deprives the tumor of oxygen and nutrients once the blood supply is blocked.
3.
By blocking the hepatic artery, no blood washes through the tumor. As a result, the drugs bathe the tumor cells for a longer time.
4.
Because the chemo drugs are trapped in the liver there is a decrease in side effects to the rest of the body.