Peritoneal Cancer

Peritoneal Cancer Treatments

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Treatment of peritoneal cancer depends on the stage of cancer, where the primary tumor started, how far it has spread, and the patient’s overall health. In some cases, we might use surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also options for certain patients. 

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, patients benefit from the expertise of a full multidisciplinary team evaluating each patient’s situation and working together to determine the best course of treatment. Our peritoneal cancer team includes a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, gynecologic oncologist, and other cancer care providers. 

Treatment for Peritoneal Cancer

If the cancer started as a gynecologic cancer or pleural cancer, those teams at UT Southwestern will lead treatment. 

If the peritoneal cancer started as a gastrointestinal tumor or is diagnosed as peritoneal mesothelioma, specialists in our Peritoneal Malignancies and HIPEC Program will lead treatment. These experts in peritoneal cancer offer a procedure called cytoreductive surgery that is combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Surgery with HIPEC

Cytoreductive, or debulking, surgery is an operation to remove all visible cancer in the abdominal cavity, including any visible peritoneal tumors or peritoneal spread of a gastrointestinal cancer. 

After removing the tumors, the surgeon administers a heated chemotherapy solution, about 107 degrees Fahrenheit, into the abdominal cavity, where it is gently agitated for 90 minutes. Heating the chemotherapy solution improves absorption by tumor cells that might remain in abdominal tissue. This treatment, called HIPEC, can control symptoms and improve survival rates for select patients whose tumors can be completely or nearly completely removed with surgery. 

Surgical oncologists at UT Southwestern, such as Patricio Polanco, M.D., have advanced training in this complex technique. The goal of HIPEC is to control symptoms, prevent cancer from coming back, and, in some cases, even cure the cancer. The operation takes six to nine hours, and the average hospital stay after the procedure is seven to 14 days. 

HIPEC is a complex procedure. Talk with our doctors about the risks, benefits, and recovery.


Our medical oncologists use cancer-fighting medications called chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. We sometimes use chemotherapy before or after surgery for patients with peritoneal cancer.

Targeted therapy

Some cancer-fighting medications can attack specific abnormalities in or on cancer cells or can boost the immune system to attack cancer cells. Our medical oncologists first test a patient’s cancer cells to find out whether a specific targeted therapy might work. Targeted therapy can be a treatment option for some patients with advanced primary peritoneal cancer.

Radiation therapy

This noninvasive treatment uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Our radiation oncologists use machines that move around patients as they lie on a table to deliver radiation to the tumor. We sometimes recommend radiation therapy for patients with advanced primary or recurrent peritoneal cancer.