TACE and TAE

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE)

TACE involves blocking (embolizing) blood vessels to cut off the blood supply to a tumor while directly injecting it with high doses of cancer-killing drugs (chemotherapy). Depriving the tumor of blood allows for a higher dose of chemotherapy drugs and keeps the anti-cancer drugs in contact with the tumor longer. Because the blood supply is temporarily blocked from entering other parts of the liver, the chemotherapy does not leave the targeted area. Isolating the organ inhibits the drugs from circulating throughout the body; this helps protect healthy cells from exposure to the drugs.

TACE may slow disease progression in liver cancer patients. For primary liver cancer, doctors may combine TACE with other therapies in a liver cancer treatment plan.

TACE is often used to treat small HCC (primary liver cancer) tumors that have a thick capsule (border, envelope, casing) because such tumors receive blood almost exclusively from the hepatic artery. TACE often shrinks tumors suited to this treatment, sometimes in preparation for surgical resection, a liver transplant, PEI or ablation. TACE is not ideal for treating non-vascular tumors, those with minimal blood supply.

Transarterial embolization (TAE)

TAE blocks (embolizes) blood vessels to cut off the blood supply to a tumor but without the use of chemotherapy.

Who performs TACE and TAE?

TACE and TAE are performed primarily by interventional radiologists and sometimes by surgeons and other medical specialists. TACE and TAE are most often performed in consultation with a medical oncologist (cancer specialist).

Questions to ask your doctor about TACE

  • What is TACE? How does it work?
  • Am I a candidate for TACE?
  • What should I expect during a TACE procedure?
  • How long does a TACE procedure last?
  • What should I expect after a TACE procedure?
  • Will TACE leave a scar?
  • Will I lose my hair?
  • Is TACE a single procedure or will I have multiple TACE procedures?
  • Does TACE require a hospital stay? If yes, how long?
  • What are the long-term factors to consider with TACE?
  • Should I make special accommodations for care during my treatment?
  • Will insurance cover the cost of TACE?
  • How successful is TACE?
  • Does TACE cure liver cancer?
  • Will TACE sessions be painful?
  • Are there any side effects with TACE?
  • What is the success rate?
  • What are the risks of the procedure?

Questions to ask your doctor about TAE

  • What is TAE? How does it work?
  • Am I a candidate for TAE?
  • What should I expect during a TAE procedure?
  • How long does a TAE procedure last?
  • What should I expect after a TAE procedure?
  • Will TACE leave a scar?
  • Will I lose my hair?
  • Is TAE a single procedure or will I have multiple TAE procedures?
  • Does TAE require a hospital stay? If yes, how long?
  • What are the long-term factors to consider with TAE?
  • Should I make special accommodations for care during my treatment?
  • Will insurance cover the cost of TAE?
  • How successful is TAE?
  • Does TAE cure liver cancer?
  • Will TAE sessions be painful?
  • Are there any side effects with TAE?
  • What is the success rate?
  • What are the risks of the procedure?