Q: What is embolization and how is it used to treat liver cancer?
While some liver tumors are able to be removed with surgery, there are several cases for which tumors are inoperable. Interventional radiologists may be able to use minimally invasive embolization techniques that offer faster, more targeted treatment to liver tumors with fewer side effects.
Radioembolization is a procedure in which small radioactive beads are injected through a small plastic tube (catheter) into the blood supply of tumors within the liver. These radioactive beads are then deposited within the tumor to provide internal radiation therapy as a means of tumor destruction. This procedure may be appropriate for some primary and metastatic liver tumors.
Chemoembolization is a similar procedure that injects small acrylic beads coated with chemotherapy into the blood supply of the liver tumors. These acrylic beads not only deliver chemotherapy directly to the tumors, but perhaps even more importantly, reduce the flow of blood to these tumors. Without a blood supply, the tumors don’t receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow. This procedure may also be appropriate for some primary and metastatic liver tumors.