What is arterial embolisation

Arterial embolisation is when a substance is injected into a blood vessel (artery) in the kidney to block the blood supply to the cancer. This reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tumour, which can make it shrink or stop growing. It can help control symptoms, such as pain or bleeding.

You may be offered tumour embolisation if an operation is not possible for you.

Having arterial embolisation for kidney cancer

You may need to stay in hospital overnight, or possibly for a day or two longer. Before treatment, the nurse or doctor usually gives you a mild sedative to help you relax. They then inject some local anaesthetic into the skin at the top of the leg (the groin) to numb the area.

A doctor puts a thin, plastic tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in the groin. Using x-ray pictures as a guide, they thread the catheter upwards until the tip is in the artery that carries blood to the area of the kidney where the cancer is. The doctor injects a substance, such as tiny beads, through the catheter into the artery, which blocks the blood supply to the cancer.

Tumour embolisation

Tumour embolisation

Side effects of arterial embolisation for kidney cancer

This treatment can sometimes cause pain in the back. Your doctor will give you painkillers to take regularly for a few days.

You may feel a little unwell for the first few days and have a slightly raised temperature. You will probably also be tired.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
0808 808 00 00
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Email us
Get in touch via this form
Chat online
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Online Community
An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand.
Help in your area
What's going on near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you live.