Neuroendocrine tumors, particularly those of gastrointestinal tract origin, have a predisposition for metastasizing to the liver. In such patients, the clinical course is often dominated by the hepatic disease, either because of hormone secretion or because of tumor bulk. Because the liver has a dual vascular supply and hepatic metastases derive the majority of blood from the hepatic artery, the regional delivery of chemotherapy can offer pharmacokinetic advantages over systemic administration. The hepatic artery is also a nonsurgical avenue for inducing selective metastasis ischemia by the embolization of tumor vessels. The combination of these two therapies, or chemoembolization, may provide additive benefits. Such an approach has been demonstrated to reduce tumor bulk, reduce hormone levels, and palliate the symptoms of many patients with liver-dominant neuroendocrine metastases. Embolization or chemoembolization is an appropriate modality for some patients with neuroendocrine tumors.
Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of California, San Francisco, 400 Parnassus Avenue, Suite 502, San Francisco, CA 94143-0324, USA.