Chemoembolization

If your oncologist (cancer doctor) recommends chemoembolization, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula offers high-quality care before, during, and after your procedure.

What’s chemoembolization?

Chemoembolization combines chemotherapy drugs with a procedure called embolization, which cuts off blood flow to specific blood vessels, to treat cancer. It is most often used to treat liver cancer.

During chemoembolization, your doctor injects chemotherapy drugs through a catheter (long, thin tube) into the blood vessel that brings blood to a tumor. Embolization keeps the cancer medication where it’s needed and away from healthy tissue.

Minimally invasive treatment

Chemoembolization is a type of interventional radiology procedure, which means it uses medical imaging to guide minimally invasive treatment. You’ll benefit from:

  • More localized and precise treatment, so healthy tissue isn’t hurt
  • One tiny incision instead of several incisions or one large incision
  • Less risk of pain, scarring, infection, or bleeding

What to expect

You’ll wear a hospital gown during chemoembolization. Your care team will position you on an examining table and take X-rays to map where your doctor will place the catheter.

Your nurse or technologist will place an intravenous (IV) line in your arm or hand for medications and fluids. Your care team will clean your skin with a special soap and may shave or trim hair on the treated area.

Safety and pain management

You’ll receive:

  • General anesthesia, which causes you to sleep and not remember the procedure
  • Local anesthesia to numb the treated area and prevent pain

Your care team will closely monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse.

During the procedure

Your doctor will make a small incision in the skin near the groin and use X-ray images to guide the insertion of the catheter. Your doctor injects a special dye in the catheter and then takes another set of X-rays to make sure the catheter is where it should be.

Your doctor will inject the chemotherapy drugs and material that causes embolization through the catheter. You may have more X-rays to make sure the entire tumor is treated. Then, your doctor will remove the catheter and apply pressure to the incision site to prevent bleeding. A dressing will cover the area, but you won’t need stitches.

Recovery after the procedure

Expect to stay in the hospital overnight so your care team can monitor you and help you feel comfortable. When you leave the hospital, you’ll receive:

  • Antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Medications to lessen pain and nausea

After the procedure, you may have a fever, fatigue (tiredness), and loss of appetite for one to two weeks.

Follow-up care

Check in with your doctor during the month following the procedure. You’ll have a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan a month after the procedure and every three months afterward to monitor your health.

If you have more than one tumor, you may need more than one chemoembolization procedure.

Your cancer care plan

You may have chemoembolization in addition to other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, or surgery. Your cancer care team will create a customized plan based on the number and type of tumors.

Ask for a referral

You’ll need a referral from your doctor to schedule a cancer care appointment at Montage Health’s Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Contact us at (831) 625-4753 if you have questions or need help.

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