Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE)

Transarterial Chemoembolization aka TACE or Chemoembolization places chemotherapy and synthetic materials called embolic agents into a blood vessel feeding a cancerous tumor to cut off the tumor's blood supply and trap the chemotherapy within the tumor. It is most often used to treat liver cancer but may also be used in patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Chemoembolization may be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery, ablation, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.of the liver, is a minimally invasive procedure that involves injecting chemotherapy drugs into an artery that supplies blood to a tumor, along with particles that block the artery's oxygen and nutrient supply. 

When is the procedure recommended?

TACE is most beneficial to patients whose disease is predominantly limited to the liver, whether the tumor began in the liver or spread to the liver from another organ. Cancers that may be treated by Chemoembolization or TACE include:

  • Hepatoma or hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (primary cancer of the bile ducts in the liver)
  • Metastasis (spread) to the liver

Depending on the number and type of tumors, your doctor may use TACE or combine it with other treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or ablation.

How is the procedure performed?

Using x-ray guidance, the doctor inserts a thin catheter through the skin into an artery, either in the groin or in the wrist, and advances it to the liver. Then contrast material is injected through the catheter and another series of x-rays will be taken.

Once the catheter is positioned in the branches of the artery that are feeding the tumor, the anti-cancer drugs and embolic agents are mixed together and injected. Additional x-rays will be taken to confirm that the entire tumor has been treated.

What are the benefits?

  • Stops tumor growth in about 70% of patients
  • Shrinks tumors and relieves symptoms
  • Fewer sides effects than chemotherapy
  • Shorter recovery than traditional cancer treatments


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