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Patricio Polanco, M.D. Answers Questions On HIPEC

Patricio Polanco, M.D. Answers Questions On: HIPEC

When do you use HIPEC?

HIPEC, or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, is used in conjunction with cytoreductive surgery to treat advanced peritoneal diseases and carcinomatosis. It can be used for select patients with appendiceal cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer that has spread throughout the abdomen.

What is the process?

Cytoreductive surgery essentially removes any visible tumor or peritoneal spread of a GI cancer. We spend several hours in the operating room removing the tumors that we can see. Then we insert a special tubing system that’s connected to a pump that heats and delivers a chemotherapy solution into the abdomen to kill any remaining cancer cells. That takes 90 minutes. 

After chemoperfusion is completed, we proceed to reconstruct the areas inside the abdomen that need it. The whole process takes several hours and is like multiple surgeries in one.

What is the benefit of the heated chemotherapy in HIPEC?

Previous studies have shown that heat can kill cancer cells and it also favors the absorption of the chemotherapy drug into tumors.

What are some of the other benefits of HIPEC?

Delivery of chemotherapy in this way keeps it mostly within the abdomen where it’s needed instead of delivering it all over the body. For certain tumors it can be more effective and safer than standard chemotherapy and causes fewer side effects. 

Are there any downsides?

The recovery is long, and there’s always the possibility of tumor recurrence.