Chemosaturation therapy is a method of treating cancers in the liver. It is a procedure carried out under general anaesthetic. The concept of chemosaturation therapy is to temporarily isolate the liver from the body’s blood circulation and deliver a concentrated dose of an anti-cancer drug directly to the liver, “saturating” the entire organ. Blood leaving the liver is directed outside of the body to filters that remove most of the anti-cancer drug before returning it to the body. Because the liver is isolated from the rest of the body, the anti-cancer drug can be given at higher concentration levels than is possible in systemic chemotherapy. By delivering this drug to the entire liver, treatment is administered to potentially both visible tumours and undetected micro tumours.
As with any cancer therapy, treatment with chemosaturation therapy is associated with side effects. The most common side effects are thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count), anaemia (decrease in the total amount red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin in the blood) and neutropenia (low level of neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell that help the body to fight off infection). During chemosaturation therapy you will also undergo a general anaesthesia, which may result in you feeling drowsy and nauseous, with a headache and sore throat. These side effects usually pass relatively quickly.
Chemosaturation therapy is a specialist procedure that involves a skilled team and is usually carried out by a team of doctors including a Consultant Radiologist, Consultant Anaesthetist and Perfusionist (they are responsible for the filter and ensuring that the correct procedure is carried out when the filtration stage commences). The procedure can take anything from 3-5 hours but is dependent on a number of factors. You should discuss this with your doctor

Chemosaturation Process Isolation

1. Isolation

Chemosaturation Process Saturation

2. Saturation

Chemosaturation Process Filtration

3. Filtration

Frequently Asked Questions

Chemosaturation therapy is available in an increasing number of pre-selected hospitals where specialists have been fully trained on the procedure. Please check the treatment centre section of the website for further information. Even if there is no treatment centre in your area you may be eligible to travel abroad or within your country for treatment.

While studies have indicated that chemosaturation therapy is most effective in patients with ocular melanoma liver metastases, it can be used in the treatment of primary and other secondary liver cancers.16 It is classified as a whole organ based therapy which means it can treat both visible and non-visible tumours in the liver.

In order to determine if you are suitable for chemosaturation therapy your doctor you will need to carry out a number of tests such as scans of your liver and other parts of your body as well as blood tests. This is to determine that you are healthy enough for the procedure.

You and your doctor will talk about whether chemosaturation therapy is the best treatment for you. It will depend on:

  • The stage and grade of your cancer
  • Your age
  • Your overall health
  • If your cancer has spread to other parts of the body or it is mainly in the liver
  • The portion of your liver which has been invaded by the cancer cells (including the parts that do not have cancer)
  • The location of vital veins and arteries to the tumours in your liver
  • The type of treatment you have had in the past (including any surgeries)

There are several important differences between chemosaturation therapy and other liver cancer treatments:

  • Chemosaturation therapy is a procedure carried out under general anaesthetic.
  • With chemosaturation therapy, your doctor can give the anti-cancer drug directly to your liver which may help destroy the cancer.
  • By delivering this drug to potentially the entire liver, tumours both seen and unseen by your doctor can potentially be treated.
  • Chemosaturation therapy prevents most of the drug from spreading to the rest of your body.

No one treatment approach is right for all patients, and doctors will often combine multiple treatment approaches as part of a patient’s treatment plan. Eligibility for chemosaturation therapy will depend on a number of factors, as listed under the suitability for chemosaturation therapy section.

Currently there is no standard of care (SOC) for patients with ocular melanoma liver metastases. Chemosaturation therapy has shown to be particularly effective in patients with ocular melanoma liver metastases. In a clinical trial setting chemosaturation therapy met the primary endpoint of the phase 3 clinical study, which was extended liver progression-free survival. This reflects a 4-fold increase in liver progression-free survival when compared to the best alternative care* available on the market.

Eligibility for chemosaturation therapy in this patient group will depend on your overall health, stage and grade of cancer, a number of other factors and must be decided by the surgeon/doctor on a case by case basis.

*Best alternative care = systemic chemotherapy with dacarbazine/temozolomide, carboplatin/taxol, chemoembolisation, radioembolisation, and supportive care.

Your doctor will give you general anaesthesia so you will be asleep during the procedure. When you wake up, you may have some catheters in your body and you may feel uncomfortable. If you feel pain following the procedure, inform the medical staff to investigate the cause of the pain. In many cases the pain can be managed using pain relieving medication.

As with many cancer therapies, treatment with chemosaturation therapy is associated with toxic side effects and certain risks common to the administration of chemotherapy and to surgical procedures involving general anaesthesia, some of which are potentially life threatening. Patients are advised to seek qualified medical advice to determine if they are suitable candidates for treatment with chemosaturation therapy.