Heated chemotherapy for gastrointestinal cancers that have spread

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), also called heated chemotherapy, may be an option for people with late-stage cancer of the appendix or colon, or in some cases, ovarian or uterine cancer that has spread. HIPEC is an innovative approach to administering chemotherapy directly to the abdominal cavity and thus to cancerous tumors and cells that are difficult to see with the naked eye.

Not everyone is a candidate for this type of treatment. Your doctors will consider the origin of your disease, your current state of health, including nutritional status and physical fitness, to determine whether you can benefit from HIPEC.

How HIPEC works

There are two steps involved with HIPEC treatment. First, patients undergo “cytoreductive” surgery to remove all visible tumors and signs of disease in the abdominal cavity. After the surgical process, the heated chemotherapy drug is circulated throughout the area for approximately 90 minutes. To improve the effectiveness of the treatment, the surgical team will work together, gently rocking the patient’s body back and forth to ensure the medication gets distributed to hard-to-reach areas.

Results and effectiveness of HIPEC

As with any high-risk procedure, the results depend greatly on the person receiving the treatment. In general, HIPEC may produce fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy as the drug is delivered directly to the diseased areas rather than throughout the body. The goal of HIPEC is to prolong the patient’s survival and to improve quality of life.

HIPEC is one of several advanced cancer therapies provided by the skilled surgical oncologists at Main Line Health. To learn more about this treatment or to make an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form