TACE for Liver Tumor from Hepatitis and Cirrhosis
Transcatheter Arterial Chemoembolization is a mouthful! I like the nickname TACE. When I first began hearing about this particular way that a liver tumor could be treated, I thought of a taser. You know, like that gun the police chase unruly people with? I kind of like that image. My liver cells are getting out of control. It is time to shut them down! Seriously though, I learned quite a bit about the procedure and cannot wait to share it with you. You better believe there will be another blog about TACE for Liver Tumor from Hepatitis and Cirrhosis after my procedure. It is next Tuesday. Consider this Part 1.
Who performs TACE Procedures? The TACE procedure is done by an Intervention Radiologist, also known as IR. Since I had never heard of an IR before, Dr. Stephen Lee, my doctor at Integris broke it down for me. Intervention Radiologists are responsible for much of the work done to help shrink and kill cancerous tumors. He told me about Dr. Cesare Gianturco from Italy who was a super star in the field of cancer research. He was the father of the stints and his work is what led to the cathether procedure that is used in TACE. Which leads us to..
How are Tace Procedures done? The IR doc inserts a tiny catheter into the femoral artery at the top of your leg. They wind it through toward the Hepatic Artery. From there, they use X-Ray tech stuff called Angiography to follow the artery that is closest to the tumor. After they pinpoint the tumor, they may try to run more tiny catheters to the “branches” until they are right up on it. I picture a weak tumor surrounded by all these chemo cops and their TACE sticks.
What drugs are used in TACE procedures? After getting the tumor surrounded with one or more catheters, they start injecting what are called LC beads. These teeny tiny particles are soaked in chemotherapy drugs called Doxorubicin or Irinotecan. What these microspheres do is release the drug slowly over a several day time period. Tumor killing stuff! Dr. Lee had a little hourglass filled with them and I took a pic for you. BTW – the IR is the doctor who injects the beads. An oncologist is the one who prescribes the chemotherapy beads.
What happens to the tumor after TACE? Here is where it gets good. The drugs in the LC Beads cut off the blood supply that is coming from the hepatic artery. The tumor is sitting there on/in our liver just feeding off of our blood and nutrients. Argh. The chemotherapy in the beads first hit the tumor cells. Then they shut off the food supply. Stun and starve the sucker! This process usually will knock a tumor dead in its tracks.
My Intervention Radiologist, Dr. Stephen Lee at Integris totally rocks. He’s also a history buff and great teacher. He has a keen interest in all things TACE related and has done it for about 3 decades. He broke it down by telling me a story.
The high rate of the Hepatitis B Virus or HBV in the 1960’s started a shift in the methods of treatment for Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC. Up to that time, the only thing available was full blown chemotherapy. We all know that it is hard on the entire body. It was also NOT working well on liver tumors.
During the 1970’s and 80’s doctors tried choking off the blood supply to the rest of the body so they could target the tumor. They eventually found a recipe that combined both of the above. It took 15 years of research, but doctors were finally able to target the liver tumor and keep the chemo out of the rest of our body.
TACE is used for many different reasons. Sometimes the HCC is advanced. If the tumor is really large, this procedure can help to shrink it down to size. If it is not gone after one TACE, they will do a second one to make sure they get it all. This can help us in many ways. For example, I am hoping for a transplant. By shrinking or killing the tumor I have a better chance of staying alive til a donor organ becomes available.
Many times the tumor will swell and grow until the liver just flat gives out. Decompensation sets in as our other organs cannot carry the burden. Jaundice, ascites, Hepatic Encephalopathy, and increased varices are all signs that the tumor is taking over. I have had those symptoms before and live with some of them now. I will have NONE of that in my body. Not without a fight. Nods and snaps to Kimberly Morgan Bossley. I love her attitude and absolutely trust that the tumor is going down with TACE.
I feel a little sheepish about it sharing my visualization with you guys. But you know what? I have a cancerous tumor and will use medicine, mental imagery, nutrition, prayer, and whatever else that could work! If you find me on a mountain top dancing like crazy at midnight wearing a rosary with a sweet potatoe taped to my rib cage, and singing Jesus Loves Me – just know that your Best Friend is fighting a battle in her own way! lol
Visualizing Healing – I start by lying down and listening to some brain frequency music. I try to take a long bath first. Something about that just feels pure and right. Earphones are the best way to help you to tune out distractions. You might have a favorite classical or Indian flute music that you enjoy. I used to listen to nature sounds. But it seemed like when I got relaxed, some thunderclap would jolt me! The music I listen to is calm enough that I can feel every muscle turn to jelly!
With my eyes closed and my body totally relaxed, I imagine myself on a ride at Disney World. It is dark and there are areas of light flashing around me. The ride? It is the inside of my body. I see a glow and move quickly toward it. It’s a yellowish gray green tumor rising up and growing. I watch my blood’s T Killer Cells shooting good cancer fighting foods at it. Then the chemo beads start zapping it. I see my White Blood Cells as ancient and mighty warriors. They carry blunt weapons, bows and arrows, smart missiles and laser technology. Everything is at their disposal and they have the wisdom to target the tumor.
The tumor grows weak and confused. It gets limp, appearing to lose energy. The T Cells are huge and strong. They know exactly what to do and rely on me to supply them with good food. The nutrients are fierce in their ability to zap the cancer cells. The LC Beads keep a steady pulse of chemo streaming right on the tumor. It’s almost like a video game watching the different weapons being used.
I zoom off to another part of my body, checking on the kidney, going through my heart to watch it beat in a steady rhythm. Outwardly, I am breathing in slow breaths and exhaling fully. Inwardly I go look at my spleen and guide myself to send encouraging thoughts. It has taken a beating. I hold my hand on it and smile, sending calm thoughts to my body.
Finally, I go back by the liver. That hard working organ that keeps us all alive even with HCV, Cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Pushing anxiety away, I see my liver for what it is: A hard shriveled up organ that is still working in spite of that tumor and End Stage Cirrhosis. It is counting on me once again to make wise choices. I listen to my doctors, use good diet and nutrition, and keep my mind at rest. I will be brave through the TACE procedure and anything else that comes my way.
It has been a month since they found the tumor. With the Pre-transplant work up last week, and then meeting my oncologist and Interventional Radiologist time has flown! I am ready to start killing that tumor!
In the meantime, I will dream on of shrunken tumors and rest in the hands of my medical team. TACE for Liver Tumor from Hepatitis and Cirrhosis is a proactive stance for me right now!
A big hug to all of you. Your messages and support about your experiences and/or fears about TACE have helped so much. I may not answer email so fast right now, but I love hearing from you always always. Your best friend in the middle of every battle, xoxo Karen:)
Do you visualize your body working hard to kill the Hepatitis C virus or Liver Cancer? Give it a try. You might be surprised at the peace it can bring.
Peace ushers in hope. You can create a healing environment for your body!
Check out the youtube on TACE procedure here!
You can find supportive and loving words on all things Hepatitis C by clicking Here
images via cxvascular.com, xmarksthescot.com, technology-africa.com , chronicscarecrow.deviantart.com