Palliative Embolization for Refractory Bleeding

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Abstract

Bleeding is a common and often challenging complication of malignancy. Etiologies of hemorrhage in this patient population vary, and bleeding may present as an acute, life-threatening emergency or a chronic, low-volume blood loss. For patients with advanced malignancies, interventions to manage bleeding must be balanced by the patient's life expectancy and quality of life. As such, minimally invasive procedures such as transarterial embolization are useful therapeutic options in appropriately selected patients. There is a rich history of palliative transarterial embolization for refractory bleeding in cancer patients. This technique was first applied in the 1970s and has since become an established treatment tool for malignancy-related bleeding throughout the body. While the preponderance of published data comprised case reports and small retrospective studies, the use of embolization continues to expand as experience grows and techniques are refined. In this review, we summarize the literature and provide our perspective on embolization for refractory bleeding in cancer patients.

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