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Chemoembolization Cancer Therapy


What you need to know about chemoembolization:

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

How to prepare for your procedure:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.

What will happen during your procedure:

  • You may be given local anesthesia to numb the area. You will be awake with local anesthesia, but you will not feel pain. Your healthcare provider will make a small incision, and insert a catheter into the tumor area. He will guide the catheter until it reaches the blood vessels of the tumor.
  • Your healthcare provider will put the chemo medicine in the catheter. He will then inject a substance to cut off the blood and oxygen supply to the tumor.

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. 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.


Medicines may be given to treat diarrhea or decrease pain. Do not wait until your pain is severe before you take pain medicine. You may also need medicine to prevent infection.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately 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.

Contact your healthcare provider 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.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage and increase your risk for new or returning cancer. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more tests and to see if the treatment decreased the size of the tumor. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.