A Minimally Invasive Approach to Fighting Liver Cancer
Patients with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and liver metastases (cancer spread from other organs such as the colon, lungs or breast) now have non-surgical options for treating tumors. Through minimally invasive image-guided procedures, a specialist called a vascular interventional radiologist administers cancer-fighting treatment directly to the tumor, avoiding damage to surrounding tissues. This is frequently done as a bridge treatment until the patient can undergo a liver resection or liver transplant.
Chemoembolization delivers chemotherapy directly into a tumor. The physician makes a tiny, pinhole incision in the wrist or groin to access the artery leading to the liver. Using specialized X-ray equipment, the physician passes a catheter (small tube) into this artery and guides it to the location of the liver cancer. Once in place, the doctor releases small, spherical bead-like particles loaded with chemotherapy. The beads slowly release the drug at the site of the cancer over a long period. By targeting the drug directly at the tumor, the patient experiences fewer side effects than with traditional chemotherapy treatment.
Radioembolization (Y-90) delivers radiotherapy (high-dose radiation) directly into a tumor. This process is similar to chemoembolization, but instead of chemotherapy drugs, the beads are loaded with high-dose radiation. This procedure also involves a pinhole incision in the wrist or groin, where the physician inserts a catheter to access the liver. The doctor uses specialized X-ray equipment to lead the catheter to the location of the cancer, then releases the high-dose radiotherapy beads directly into the tumor. This approach reduces radiation damage to healthy tissues throughout the rest of the body.
Ablation uses energy to destroy cancer in the liver. The doctor makes a tiny pinhole incision in the skin of your upper abdomen to access to the cancer directly. Using specialized CAT scan equipment, the physician passes a specially designed needle into the skin and guides it precisely to the location of the cancer, avoiding damage to the normal liver. Once the tip of the needle is confirmed to be in the tumor, the physician applies extreme heat (microwave ablation) or high radiofrequency energy (RFA) to destroy the cancer.
Once the tumor is destroyed, the microscopic tools are removed and a Band-Aid® is applied. The entire treatment typically lasts 1-2 hours. The patient goes home the same day, rests for a 1-2 days, and can then return to normal activities.
We are minimally invasive image-guided specialists. Our fellowship-trained doctors offer expertise in liver cancer treatment.
Collaboration with the world-renowned SLU Liver Center. Specialists at the Saint Louis University Liver Center are on the forefront of treatment for liver diseases. SLUCare interventional radiologists work with these talented hepatologists, liver transplant surgeons and oncologists to provide comprehensive care for patients.
Our wrist-based approach gets you back on your feet faster. SLUCare specialists are among a handful of providers in the country to offer minimally invasive image-guided procedures through an artery in the wrist rather than the groin. This enhances patient comfort, shortens recovery time and reduces complications.
For an appointment, call 314-268-5558.