Cancer may spread from any part of the body to the liver. There the cancer cells may grow for months or years before they are detected. One of the most common sources of metastatic liver cancer is from tumors of the colon and rectum.
Surgical removal of liver tumors offers the best chance for a cure. Unfortunately, liver tumors are often inoperable because the tumor may be too large, or they have grown into major blood vessels or other vital structures. Sometimes, many small tumors are spread throughout the liver, making surgery too risky or impractical. Surgical removal is not possible for more than two-thirds of primary liver cancer patients and 90 percent of patients with secondary liver cancer.
Tumors need a blood supply, which they actively generate, in order to feed themselves and grow. As vascular experts, interventional radiologists are uniquely skilled in using the vascular system to deliver targeted treatments via a catheter throughout the body. In treating cancer patients, interventional radiologists use non-surgical localized techniques to attack the cancerous tumor from inside the body without medicating or affecting other parts of the body.
The embolization procedure effectively cuts off the blood supply feeding the tumor. Sometimes, radiation or chemotherapy may be delivered directly to the tumor during the embolization procedure. These are referred to as radioembolization or chemoembolization. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy tumor cells. Cryoablation uses an extremely cold gas to “freeze” tumors to destroy them. Since every patient is different, we use a procedure depending on your unique circumstances.
Cancer Treatment – Preparation Instructions
- You should report to your doctor all medications that you are taking—including herbal supplements—and if you have any allergies, especially to local anesthetic, medications, general anesthesia or to contrast materials (also known as “dye” or “x-ray dye”).
- Your physician may advise you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or a blood thinner for a specified period of time before your procedure. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
- Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
- In most cases, you may take your usual medications, especially blood pressure medications. These may be taken with some water in the morning before your procedure.
- You may be instructed to not eat or drink anything for several hours before your procedure.
- You may need to stay overnight at the hospital following your procedure.
- You will be given a gown to wear during the procedure.