TACE Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) for liver cancer

Embolization is a treatment that blocks or slows down the blood supply to tissues or an organ. It can be used to block the flow of blood to a tumour so the cancer cells die.  Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a specific type of chemoembolization that blocks the hepatic artery to treat liver cancer.


The most commonly used material for TACE is a gelatin sponge. Sometimes the gelatin sponge is soaked in a chemotherapy drug and an oily liquid called lipiodol before the doctor injects it into the artery.

It uses special beads that already have the chemotherapy drug in them (called drug-eluting beads, or DEBs).

After the chemoembolization is done, the doctor pulls the catheter out through the femoral artery. Pressure and ice are placed over the incision to help reduce swelling and stop bleeding.


Chemotherapy drugs used in TACE

There are no standard recommended chemotherapy drugs for TACE. The drugs that may be used alone or together are:

doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

cisplatin (Platinol AQ)

mitomycin (Mutamycin)

Follow-up after TACE

You may have a CT scan 2 or 3 months after TACE. Doctors use this imaging test to see how much the tumours have shrunk and to look for any new tumours in the liver.

Many people will need another TACE procedure because liver tumours often grow back in 10–16 months. TACE can be repeated as many times as needed, as long as you are still healthy enough to have it done.


Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) / Microwave Ablation (MWA) of Liver Tumors

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation (MWA) are treatments that use image guidance to place a needle through the skin into a liver tumor. Radiofrequency ablation, RFA, is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer. It is an image-guided technique that uses heat to destroy cancer cells. RFA and MWA are effective treatment options for patients who might have difficulty with surgery