Embolization is a procedure that involves cutting off the blood supply to a tumor by injecting particles directly into the blood vessels supplying the tumor. These particles pack a one-two punch, blocking blood flow to the tumor while releasing anti-cancer drugs or radiation directly to the liver. Embolization procedures offer effective treatment options for tumors in the liver, including primary liver cancer and other cancers that have metastasized to the liver.
Embolization has relatively few side effects because the anticancer agents don’t travel throughout the body. Since it’s not as toxic as systemic chemotherapy or external beam radiation, embolization can be used when other treatments have failed without decreasing quality of life.
Roswell Park offers these embolization procedures:
- Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE). In TACE procedures, tiny particles containing chemotherapy drugs (called drug-eluting beads) are injected into the artery supplying the tumor. This type of treatment not only allows a higher amount of the drug to reach the tumor for a longer period of time, with fewer side effect than systemic chemotherapy.
- Radioembolization (also called Selective Internal Radiotherapy-SIRT and Transarterial Radioembolization-TARE). In radioembolization, tiny particles containing yttrium (y90), a radioactive isotope that kills cancer cells, are injected into the artery supplying the tumor. This type of embolization is used predominantly for treating liver and bile duct cancer (within the liver).
- Bland embolization uses small particles to cut off the blood supply to liver tumors to prevent them from growing.