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Embolization is the injection of substances to try to block or reduce the blood flow to cancer cells in the liver. The liver is unusual in that it has 2 blood supplies. Most normal liver cells are fed by branches of the portal vein, whereas cancer cells in the liver are usually fed by branches of the hepatic artery. Doctors can exploit this difference to treat the cancer. Blocking the branch of the hepatic artery feeding the tumor helps kill off the cancer cells, but it leaves most of the healthy liver cells unharmed because they get their blood supply from the portal vein.

Chemoembolization [also known as trans-arterial chemoembolization (or TACE)] combines embolization with chemotherapy. This is done either by coating the small particles with chemotherapy drugs before injection, or by giving chemotherapy through a catheter directly into the artery, then plugging up the artery. 

This type of treatment typically does not require a hospital stay.