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WHAT IS INTRA-ARTERIAL CHEMOTHERAPY?

Intra-arterial chemotherapy is used when surgery fails to remove the cancer completely.

Dr Ang Peng Tiam, the medical director at Parkway Cancer Centre, said: "Unfortunately, in some (liver cancer) cases, when the cancer is removed in surgery, it often comes back with a vengeance and spreads to the entire liver."

While this means that the person can never be fully cured of cancer, the intra-arterial chemotherapy treatment can improve one's chances of survival, he said. This is because the chemotherapy drugs are injected into the artery that goes directly into the liver.

Dr Ang said: "While normal chemotherapy injects the drugs into any blood vessel, the intra-arterial treatment is more targeted.

"Under X-ray guidance, the drugs are injected at a puncture in the groin. This allows the drugs to go into the blood vessel that is feeding the tumour. It is basically immersing the tumour in chemotherapy drugs."

This treatment is fairly common and effective, said Dr Ang, who sees more than 10 cases of intra-arterial chemotherapy a month.