Transarterial Chemoebolization (TACE), is used to treat tumors by placing a large dose of chemotherapy (chemo) drugs right into the tumor.

This puts more of the drugs right on the cancer cells and lessens their effect on other tissues. In transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), the small blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the tumor are also blocked (embolized). Blocking the blood supply slows tumor growth. TACE usually makes liver tumors smaller. Sometimes it also reduces metastasis. The goal of this treatment is to keep the tumors under control for months and sometimes years.

Preparation for TACE

To prevent complications during the procedure, patients must follow these instructions:

  • Drink plenty of fluids the day before the procedure.
  • Do not eat solid food, candy, gum, or drink liquids after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • If a patient does not have normal kidney function or is sensitive to X-ray dye, medication may be prescribed prior to the procedure to prevent kidney complications.
  • You will have blood tests done when you arrive for your procedure.
  • Blood-thinning medicines such as Coumadin, Lovenox, Fragmin, or Plavix may need to be stopped 3 to 9 days before the procedure.
  • Patients that have diabetes and are taking insulin may have to adjust their dosage on the day of the procedure.

During the Procedure

Prior to the procedure, an IV line will be inserted to provide sedation medication for comfort as a cardiac monitor is attached to the arm to monitor blood pressure. Dr. Tilara will apply an anesthetic (numbing medicine) to the skin that may sting for a few seconds before the area is numb enough to prevent pain. A very small incision (less than ¼ inch long) is made near a patient’s groin where a catheter (small plastic tube) is threaded from an artery in the groin into an artery in the liver that carries blood to the tumor. X-ray imaging is used to place the catheter in exactly the right location as chemotherapy fluid is sent through the catheter into the liver tumor. At this stage, tiny beads are injected into the artery and beads travel toward the tumor and block its blood supply.