Chemoembolization is a treatment in which an interventional radiologist delivers a cancer-killing drug directly to the cancer through a catheter (a very thin, flexible tube) so that the cancer drug does not reach healthy tissue in other parts of the body. This treatment, which is less invasive than standard chemotherapy, cuts off the blood supply to the cancer, depriving it of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive, while leaving healthy tissue intact.
When performing chemoembolization, an interventional radiologist makes a tiny cut in the skin to access the femoral artery (the large artery of the leg). Next, the doctor inserts the catheter into the artery and directs it toward the tumor, using live x-rays to guide it to the correct location. After the catheter reaches the blood vessels supplying the tumor, the interventional radiologist injects a combination of cancer drugs into the arteries.
After treatment, patients will follow up with their interventional radiologists. If the tumor has not decreased in size, they may undergo another chemoembolization as part of ongoing treatment.