Chemoembolization Cancer Therapy

What is chemoembolization?

Chemoembolization is a treatment used to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. When it is used to treat a liver tumor, it is called hepatic artery chemoembolization.

How is chemoembolization done?

Caregivers inject chemotherapy (chemo) directly into a small artery that leads to the tumor. A substance is then injected. The substance blocks the artery, keeps the chemo in the tumor, and stops blood flow to the tumor. This keeps the chemo concentrated near the tumor and helps to kill the cancer cells. Your caregiver may also use a treatment called ablation to help destroy the tumor. Electric currents, lasers, and ultrasound are some ways to cause ablation.

What are the risks of chemoembolization?

  • You may need to have the procedure repeated. You may get postembolization syndrome, which includes symptoms such as a fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Chemoembolization may cause severe bleeding, and you may need a blood transfusion. It may also cause fatigue, dizziness, or a fast heartbeat. You may get a bruise or an infection where the catheter was inserted. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.

  • Chemo used during the procedure may cause hair loss, nausea, or diarrhea. Medicine used during the procedure may cause shortness of breath or a lung infection. It may cause life-threatening harm to your stomach, liver, heart, or brain.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have abdominal pain that does not go away, even after you take pain medicine.

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.

  • You have a fast heartbeat.

  • You continue to have diarrhea, even after you take medicine to decrease it.

  • You are unable to have a bowel movement.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are too weak or dizzy to stand.

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.

  • You have severe abdominal pain.

  • You have a fever, fatigue, nausea, and are vomiting.

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.

  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.

  • You cough up blood.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.