What is chemoembolization?

Chemoembolization, or TACE (trans arterial chemoembolization) is a non-surgical procedure used to treat inoperable liver cancer. This innovative procedure delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver tumor using a non-surgical, minimally invasive technique performed by an interventional radiologist. With chemoembolization, a catheter is inserted through a tiny puncture in the groin and threaded through the arteries until it reaches the hepatic artery.
The hepatic artery is one of two blood vessels that feed the liver and the one that usually supplies blood to the tumors. Once the catheter is properly placed in the hepatic artery, a chemotherapy drug and millions of tiny particles are released into the blood stream. The particles lodge into the smaller blood vessels that feed the tumor.
Depending on the type of cancer and number of tumors, chemoembolization may be used alone or in conjunction with another treatment, such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. The liver processes and removes the chemotherapy drug over approximately a four-week period. The particles remain in the liver without causing any complications.

Why would you need a chemoembolization?

Chemoembolization is used to treat primary liver cancer and to treat liver tumors that originated elsewhere (for example, colon cancer to the liver) in patients who cannot have the tumors surgically removed. It may also be used to shrink tumors prior to surgery. Not everyone with inoperable liver cancer is a candidate for this procedure.
If you are a candidate, your doctor may recommend this procedure over other non-surgical treatments for the following reasons:

  • Treatment is regional (only affects the liver)
  • Milder side effects
  • Very short recovery
  • Treats all tumors, including undetected tumors
  • Can be repeated
  • Results have been very promising

Risks Involved

Our ability to use imaging guidance and cutting-edge technology minimizes patient risk. Prior to your procedure, your physician will discuss any potential risks with you.

Conditions to let us know about

Let your doctor know if you currently are pregnant or breast feeding, feeling ill, have a fever, or are taking any blood thinners.

Insurance coverage

Chemoembolization is covered by most private insurance providers as well as Medicare. We will seek authorization from your insurance company prior to your procedure.

Preparing for your procedure

If you are on blood thinners your doctor will instruct you if you need to stop these medications prior to the procedure. Because your procedure requires sedation, then you will need a responsible adult to give you a ride home.

Recovering from your procedure

You may possibly receive mild to moderate sedation during your procedure. You will stay in the recovery area until you are ready for discharge. You will be given written post procedure discharge instructions that will advise you about return to normal physical activity. If you have any questions after your procedure, please call the RIA Interventional Suite at 720-493-3406.

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