Cancer (Liver)

Cancer (Liver)

You may be suffering from Primary or Metastatic Liver Cancer. 

Primary Liver Cancer
This refers to cancer that originates in the liver.  The most common form is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  This is a tumor that begins in the main cells of the liver (hepatocytes).

Metastatic Liver Cancer
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.

Patients with other types of cancer also are at risk for liver cancer.  It is estimated that as many as 70 percent of all people with uncontrolled cancer will eventually develop secondary liver tumors, or metastases (tumors formed by primary cancer cells that have spread from other cancer sites).

Source: Society of Interventional Radiology

Cancer (Liver)


Liver tumors are often inoperable because the tumor may be too large, or has 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. 

Source: Society of Interventional Radiology


Embolization Therapy
Embolization is a procedure that injects substances to try to block or reduce the blood flow to cancer cells in the liver.  Embolization is an option for some patients with tumors that cannot be removed by surgery.  Embolization does reduce some of the blood supply to the normal liver tissue, so it may not be a good option for some patients whose liver has been damaged by diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.  This type of treatment typically does not require a hospital stay.

Arterial Embolization
Arterial embolization is also known as trans-arterial embolization (or TAE).  In this procedure a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is put into an artery through a small cut in the inner thigh and threaded up into the hepatic artery in the liver.  A dye is usually injected into the bloodstream at this time to help the doctor monitor the path of the catheter via angiography, a special type of x-ray.  Once the catheter is in place, small particles are injected into the artery to plug it up.

This approach, also known as trans-arterial chemoembolization (or TACE) combines embolization with chemotherapy.  Most often, this is done by using tiny beads that give off a chemotherapy drug for the embolization.  TACE can also be done by giving chemotherapy through the catheter directly into the artery, then plugging up the artery.

This technique combines embolization with radiation therapy and is sometimes known as trans-arterial radioembolization (or TARE).  This is done by injecting small beads (called microspheres) that have a radioactive isotope (yttrium-90) stuck to them into the hepatic artery.  Once infused, the beads lodge in the blood vessels near the tumor, where they give small amounts of radiation to the tumor site for several days.  The radiation travels a very short distance, so its effects are limited mainly to the tumor.

Side Effects of Embolization
Possible complications after embolization include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, infection in the liver, gallbladder inflammation, and blood clots in the main blood vessels of the liver.  Because healthy liver tissue can be affected, there is a risk that liver function will get worse after embolization.  This risk is higher if a large branch of the hepatic artery is embolized.  Serious complications are not common, but they are possible.

Source: American Cancer Society

Source: Society of Interventional Radiology

MagellanTM Robotic System

The Magellan Robotic System may be used during embolization procedures to help the physician with stability, precision, and control with the potential for increased:

  1. Access: Magellan is inserted through a small incision near your groin.
  2. Maneuverability: Your doctor uses Magellan to steer a catheter and guide wires through your complex anatomy.
  3. Accuracy: Magellan helps your doctor reach the target and complete your procedure.