Interventional radiology for liver cancer

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on September 13, 2022.

Interventional radiology uses minimally invasive procedures to treat both local and metastatic cancers. These procedures use X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other image-guided technologies to place a catheter inside the body and treat patients non-surgically. Several interventional radiology procedures may be used to treat liver cancer patients. They include:

Catheter-based treatments

Chemoembolization is a procedure designed to deliver chemotherapy directly to a tumor while also cutting off the tumor’s blood supply. During chemoembolization, a catheter is used to deliver chemotherapy microspheres directly into a tumor using image guidance. The chemotherapy drugs are released from the microspheres into the tumor, blocking the flow of blood to the tumor.

TheraSphere® and SIR-Spheres® use tiny microspheres to deliver radiation therapy directly into the liver. These internal radiation therapies use the tumor’s blood supply to deliver the treatment directly into the tumor, while reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Intra-arterial chemotherapy (IAC) delivers chemotherapy drugs directly into the liver tumor through a catheter. This procedure is designed to allow a more potent dose of chemo therapy to reach the tumor while reducing systemic side effects.

Needle-based treatments

NanoKnife® is a minimally invasive option for some liver cancer patients with an inoperable tumor that is typically less than three centimeters. NanoKnife system uses electrical currents to treat tumors.

Ablation procedures: Treatments, such as cryoablation and microwave ablation, are designed to destroy tissue using extreme temperatures.

Learn more about risk factors for liver cancer

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