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Chemoembolization Cancer Therapy


  • Chemoembolization is a treatment that may be used to shrink the size of cancer tumors. When chemoembolization is used to help treat liver cancer, it is called hepatic artery chemoembolization (HACE). Your liver is an organ in the upper right side of your abdomen (stomach). During HACE, your caregiver puts medicine into your liver through one of its arteries. An artery is a blood vessel that carries blood with oxygen to your body organs, such as your liver. The medicine put into your liver is called chemotherapy (chemo) and it works by killing tumor cells. Your caregiver will put a grainy substance into your liver to help stop the tumor's blood flow.
    Gallbladder, Liver and Pancreas
  • You may need HACE if your tumor cannot be removed through surgery or other treatments. You also may need HACE if your liver cancer spreads to other parts of your body. HACE may shrink your tumor so that you may be able to have a liver transplant. During a liver transplant, your liver is replaced with all or part of a liver from another person. After chemoembolization, your tumor may shrink or die. This treatment may decrease your pain and other symptoms. Your liver may become small enough for you to have surgery to remove the tumor. After treatment, your cancer may be less likely to spread to other parts of your body, such as your stomach.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Antidiarrheal medicine: This medicine is given to decrease the amount of diarrhea you are having. Some of these medicines coat the intestine (bowel) and make the BM less watery. Other antidiarrheal medicine works by slowing down how fast the intestine is moving.
  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • You will need to return for a follow-up physical exam with your caregiver. You may need blood tests to check how your body is doing since your treatment. You also may need a computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound. These imaging tests will help show if the blood flow has returned to your liver. Your caregiver also may use these tests to see if your tumor has shrunk. If your caregiver decides that your tumor needs to be shrunk more, you may need to have HACE again.


  • You have a fever (high body temperature).
  • You have pain in your abdomen that does not go away, even after taking medicine to decrease it.
  • You have vomiting (throwing up) or nausea (you feel like vomiting).
  • You have a fast heartbeat.
  • You continue to have diarrhea (loose, watery stools), even after using medicine to decrease it.
  • You are unable to have a bowel movement (BM).
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your cancer, medicine, or chemoembolization treatment.


  • You are too weak to stand up, or you get dizzy when you stand.
  • Your wound does not stop bleeding.
  • You have severe (very bad) pain in your abdomen.
  • You have several symptoms at the same time. These may include severe pain in your abdomen, a fever, nausea and vomiting, fatigue (feeling very tired).
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.