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Hyperthermic IntraPeritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC): Adult and Pediatric

Female patient speaks to doctor about hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Hyperthermic IntraPeritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is an innovative method of treating cancers originating in or spreading to the abdomen. Examples include colorectal cancer, appendiceal cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pediatric malignancies. Typically, cancers in the abdominal cavity are difficult to treat.

HIPEC is performed after a tumor is removed in surgery. The abdominal cavity is then bathed in heated chemotherapy effectively killing remaining cancer cells.

Advantages of HIPEC

  • improved overall patient survival rates and quality of life
  • can be more effective than oral or intravenous chemotherapy agents when a tumor resides on the surface of the abdominal wall and organs
  • hard to reach areas where microscopic cancer cells hide can be accessed via HIPEC
  • heated chemotherapy enhances the ability to penetrate tissues to increase the likelihood of effectively killing cancer cells
  • HIPEC does not circulate through the bloodstream and attack healthy cells

What happens during HIPEC?

First, visible tumors are surgically removed. This could leave microscopic cancer cells behind that may not be visible. A heated chemotherapy solution is used to target the left-behind cancer cells. HIPEC is directly administered into the abdominal cavity through catheters. The goal of the chemotherapy is to eliminate cancer cells while preserving healthy cells. HIPEC is administered at a specific temperature range because cancer cells are killed at about 104°F while normal cells die at approximately 111.2°F.

What to expect afterwards?

Following cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC, average hospital stay is about 10 -12 days. Following discharge, our team will work to ensure the patient’s home care needs are met. While fatigue is common, it is imperative to remain active to prevent complications such as the formation of blood clots.

Side Effects

Side effects vary from individual to individual. These may include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • formation of blood clots
  • anastomotic leak
  • increased likelihood of infection
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • inability to consume enough calories following surgery

Patient Story

Breana's hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy patient story

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