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Chemoembolization Cancer Therapy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is 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 do I prepare for chemoembolization?

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

What will happen during chemoembolization?

  • 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. Your provider will guide the catheter until it reaches the blood vessels of the tumor.
  • Your provider will put the chemo medicine in the catheter. Your provider will then inject a substance to cut off the blood and oxygen supply to the tumor.

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. 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.

Care Agreement

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Further information

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