Bland Embolization For Carcinoid Cancer Treatment

Recently I had a very knowledgeable friend suggest some treatment options. In her email she suggested a number of things that I had never heard of. One of them was Bland Embolization. I have never heard of bland embolization for carcinoid cancer treatment so, here is a post with what I have learned. I hope it helps you. If you have anything to add please feel free to do so.

After doing some research I did find out that I had heard of this treatment but didn’t know the medical name. Bland embolization is basically the process of plugging up the blood vessels that feed the tumors in your liver. Sometimes it is simply called embolization. That is why I was confused. Bland embolization is more precise…which is always good.

Bland embolization is a treatment option for patients who have cancer that involves the liver. It is used for tumors that cannot be removed by surgery because of the location or the number of tumors present. Both tumors that have originated in the liver (primary liver cancer) and tumors that spread (“metastasized”) from other sites (ie, colon or breast cancer) can be treated with this procedure. This is a palliative – not a curative – treatment, but it can be extremely effective in treating primary liver cancers and has also shown promising results with some types of metastatic tumors, especially when combined with other therapies. Read More

The interesting thing about our liver is that it has two blood supplies rather than only one. So, you have options when treating the liver. Embolization blocks one of these blood supplies and starves the tumors.

One of the downsides of embolization is that it may take away your options for debulking surgery if embolization is done first. Debulking, if you didn’t know, is the removal of tumors by surgical means and seems to be very effective if you can have it done. The problem is that if you plug up one of the blood supplies that feed the liver before debulking surgery is considered then you may be eliminating that option for yourself. Here’s how they do it.

Using a catheter (a hollow, flexible tube) that is inserted into the liver blood supply small particles or embolic materials are injected to prevent blood flow to the tumor. Read More

Here’s a quick video with treatment options for Neuroendocrine / Carcinoid cancer that has spread to the liver. They discuss embolization toward the end of the video.


Finally, there is another type of embolization called Chemoembolization. It involves the same process but with chemotherapy fed directly into the liver. This is another option that I will cover at a later date.

My Options

My options seem to be more limited. You see the tumors in my liver are not only large but diffuse. Diffuse means that they are spread throughout the liver. In fact, when you look at the scans of my liver you see large tumors and small tumors. The small tumors look like flecks of salt and pepper all throughout the liver tissue. My understanding is that other people don’t seem to have this issue.

After watching the video, and reading a bit, I’ve decided that my best option would be to find some way to eliminate the tiny tumors in my liver so that debulking surgery becomes a viable option for me. You see, there are a lot of options out there for people who have only a few tumors in the liver but in my case surgery is being ruled out by my doctors because of those tiny tumors that pepper my liver. So, my plan is to stay on a traditional systemic treatment like the chemo that I am on now and seek a way to kill the tiny tumors in my liver. If I can kill those small tumors somehow then maybe I can have a debulking surgery and extend my life.

So, my next question for my doctor will be about the tiny tumors in my liver. You see, my tumors shrank on Everolimus ( A.K.A. Afinitor ) so I am wondering what the Afinitor did to those tiny tumors. Are there less of them? Did they shrink? If not, why?

I hope this helped you,
Ed – To find out how to use my images on your blog for free – Click Here




    • I am currently on chemo and I think that is not a good choice when you are on chemo. I think it is damaging to the kidneys. Although, I’m sure that I could get off chemo and probably wait a bit….and maybe be a candidate. I don’t really know what makes you a candidate, do you? I am also looking into the nanokinfe. Otherwise, I’m not sure what my options are.

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  2. At a conference this spring, one speaker who is an interventional radiologist and teaches in a medical school told us that bland embolization is preferred by many interventional radiologists because the chemoembolization has never been actually proven to be any better. I had a chemoembolization and it worked but for less than six months. Then the tumors started growing again and the carcinoid syndrome reappeared. It was actually worse than ever. It turns out that my largest tumor was probably too large for success. Debulking has worked wonders for me. I have felt almost healthy for two years since debulking.

    May you have the best possible outcome,

    • Nice! 2 years….
      My Oncologist at Duke said similar things. He said if I do it that they might mix in a little chemo but probably not too much. I’m going for the PRRT in TX. So far, nobody will do surgery on me.
      Thanks for the good wishes! Ed

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