You’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer, and now you’re wondering how to treat it. Your doctor has proposed two different methods of treatment: chemotherapy and chemoembolization (chemo). You’re concerned about the possibility of side effects with both options, but your doctor assures you that the benefits of chemoembolization outweigh the potential risks. Keep reading to learn more about chemoembolization and your choice of treatment.
How Is Chemoembolization Performed?
The procedure is performed in the physician’s office. A catheter is inserted through the femoral artery and maneuvered to the hepatic artery, which supplies blood to the liver. The catheter can be used to inject a chemotherapeutic agent (usually a combination of doxorubicin and methotrexate) that can be directed precisely where it is needed in order to kill any cancer cells remaining after surgery or other treatments. Chemoembolization targets liver cancer — more specifically, cancer that originated in the liver or spread there from other areas in the body. When chemoembolization is indicated as an alternative treatment for advanced metastatic cancers (cancers that have spread beyond the primary tumor site), it may also reduce chemotherapy side effects by delivering chemotherapy directly to one of its source sites – this would usually be considered only when all conventional treatment options are no longer feasible. More recently, some physicians have begun recommending chemoradiation therapy as an option before surgical resection. Studies show good response rates with low rates of complications, even among patients with large tumors. If you’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer and want to know your best treatment option, talk to your doctor about these two available techniques. Your doctor will help you make an informed decision on which one is best for you.
Benefits of Chemotherapy Embolization
The benefits of chemotherapy embolization include a lower risk of side effects and the ability to treat liver cancer without surgery. The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis with minimal discomfort and can take as little as 30 minutes. In some cases, chemotherapy embolization may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as radiation or surgery. It is considered a good option for patients who are not eligible for more invasive procedures like surgery because it does not require general anesthesia, meaning that it’s possible to perform it while the patient is awake. For example, if a tumor had grown outside the liver but was still feeding off its blood supply, chemoembolization could still starve it and shrink the tumor without removing any tissue from the body. Chemotherapy Embolization has been shown to extend survival rates by 10% when compared with no treatment at all; however, there is no evidence that suggests that one type of treatment is better than another in terms of efficacy (at this point). Patients should consult their physician to determine which treatment is right for them. Some people undergoing chemoembolization experience fever, chills, coughs, chest pain, or vomiting—symptoms which typically pass within hours. More severe complications are rare but can occur in about 1-2 percent of patients. One complication is fluid buildup near the lungs—called pulmonary edema—which may lead to respiratory distress and death in extreme cases. With preventive measures taken into account before treatment begins, complications are rare; however, it is important that people undergoing chemotherapy embolization tell their doctor about any chronic illnesses they have so that proper adjustments can be made to prevent injury during treatment.
What to Expect During Surgery
Before your surgery, you’ll need to have a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. This will show where the cancer is and help the surgeons plan how to remove it. You may also need other tests to find out if any cancer cells have spread outside of your liver. The type of surgery you’ll have depends on how advanced your cancer is. Some people are treated with an open surgical procedure (laparotomy) where an incision is made in the belly button area (sternotomy). Others might have laparoscopic surgery that uses tiny incisions in several parts of the body.
Most people who are treated with chemoembolization won’t need major abdominal surgery, but some patients might need more treatment after their chemoembolization. Doctors might give them chemotherapy or radiation therapy depending on their cancer’s stage and what treatments they’ve already had. Chemotherapy drugs go into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells all over the body, so this can be helpful even when there’s only cancer in one part of the body. When cancer has metastasized, though, the drugs don’t travel as far through the bloodstream as they should. Chemoembolization allows doctors to block off blood vessels that supply blood to the liver from going anywhere else by putting chemicals near those vessels (called channels). Once these channels are blocked off, chemotherapy can flow directly through the ones that still feed oxygen and nutrients to your liver. As a result, tumors in places like your stomach or pancreas could shrink because it gets less blood than normal. There are many ways chemoembolization is used in treating cancers of different types. If you’re thinking about getting chemoembolization for liver cancer at Santa Fe Abdominal MRI call us today at 505-320-3177
After Surgery Recovery
After surgery, patients can experience some pain and discomfort. For most people, this will only last a few days to a week. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent infection. For the first day or two following surgery, it is important to stay off your feet as much as possible. You should not lift anything over 10 pounds or drive until you have been cleared by your doctor. If needed, you might need to go on bed rest for several days after surgery. Your surgeon will tell you when you can return to work and resume normal activities. In general, patients are encouraged to keep their activity level low for the first month following surgery. As time passes, they may slowly increase their activity level if all goes well. However, the long-term impact of surgery cannot be underestimated. Some people feel like they have gotten back to themselves after about six weeks. Others take longer to recover and feel like themselves again about one-year post-surgery. The key is patience during recovery! Below are tips to get you through that stage in your life with flying colors.
Abdominal MRI Santa Fe Tip #1: Compression garments (AKA girdles) can provide relief from swelling and offer support following surgery. These garments create pressure on the abdomen and groin area in order to improve blood flow and help with the healing of tissue.
Abdominal MRI Santa Fe Tip #2: Keep your spirits up! Laughing helps bring oxygen into the body which makes us feel better. Spending time with friends, volunteering at our favorite cause, or simply reading a good book can help tremendously in achieving peace of mind during difficult times such as these.
Final Thoughts on Chemotherapy Embolization
If you have been diagnosed with liver cancer and are looking for a treatment that targets the tumor without the need to cut open your abdomen, chemoembolization might be an option. This procedure involves injecting tiny particles into the blood vessels that feed directly into the tumor. Those particles then block off the blood supply to the tumor and cause it to shrink, eventually killing it. As this is a less invasive procedure than surgery, many people prefer it over traditional treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The best part about chemoembolization is that, in some cases, patients can go home within hours of their treatment!
As we all know by now, cancer is not just one disease but actually many different diseases with different symptoms and treatments. Sometimes, multiple cancers can exist at once, either in the same organ or in organs close to each other. A common example of this is when breast cancer spreads to the lungs (also known as metastatic breast cancer). However, if someone has liver cancer and also has lung cancer, they may want to explore additional options besides chemoembolization before deciding on what type of treatment they want. In fact, due to the complexities surrounding lung and liver cancers, it may be more appropriate for them to seek out specialists who specialize in treating these types of cancers separately before undergoing any further treatments. Luckily, there are plenty of providers around the country who can help diagnose and treat cancer.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone diagnosed with cancer. It’s important to research your diagnosis thoroughly and get second opinions from qualified doctors before deciding which treatment method will work best for you.
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