What is HIPEC?
HIPEC, or heated intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy, is an alternative method of delivering chemotherapy. Instead of infusing the medications through a vein, the chemotherapy is circulated in the abdominal cavity at the time of surgery. This allows direct treatment of certain cancers which have spread throughout the abdomen.
Surgeons will perform an extensive operation to remove all visible tumors. After completion of this step, heated chemotherapy is circulated in the abdomen for 60-90 minutes. The chemotherapy is then drained, and the surgeons complete the procedure. These operations take more than six hours to complete.
Surgery removes the larger tumors that can be seen. Unfortunately, smaller tumors or cluster of cancer cells will inevitably be left behind. HIPEC targets these areas and allows for treatment in areas that may not be accessible to surgery.
By placing the chemotherapy directly into the abdomen, doctors can use a higher dosage of the medication. This, combined with heat, creates a lethal environment for cancer cells. Because chemotherapy does not readily cross into the bloodstream, side effects are lessened. Studies are showing that HIPEC with aggressive surgery improves survival in some cancers when compared to chemotherapy alone.
Cancers that show spread only to the abdominal cavity may benefit from HIPEC. At City of Hope, we currently treat cancers of the colon, rectum, appendix, ovary and stomach. Other cancers that may benefit from this procedure include peritoneal mesothelioma and some sarcomas.
At City of Hope, our peritoneal surface malignancy team consists of a multidisciplinary group of experts in the field. We are one of the busiest HIPEC centers in Southern California, and continue to push the envelope in treating these difficult cancers. The team will evaluate your case and present options. Not everyone will be a candidate for HIPEC and aggressive surgery, but other treatments may be available.
City of Hope currently has a HIPEC study to treat primary or recurrent carcinoma of ovarian, fallopian tube, uterine, or peritoneal origin with HIPEC after cytoreductive surgery.
As part of the study, Thanh H. Dellinger, M.D., and her colleagues are investigating quality of life outcomes for these patients, and the role of normothermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy following HIPEC.