What is HIPEC and how does it work?

What is HIPEC?

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment that is delivered directly to the abdomen during surgery.

Unlike systemic chemotherapy delivery, which circulates throughout the body, HIPEC delivers chemotherapy directly to cancer cells in the abdomen. This allows for higher doses of chemotherapy treatment. Heating the solution may also improve the absorption of chemotherapy drugs by tumors and destroy microscopic cancer cells that remain in the abdomen after surgery.

How it works?

Before patients receive HIPEC treatment, doctors perform cytoreductive surgery to remove visible tumors within the abdomen. Cytoreductive surgery is accomplished using various surgical techniques. Once as many tumors as possible have been removed, the heated, sterilized chemotherapy solution is delivered to the abdomen to penetrate and destroy remaining cancer cells. The solution is 41 to 43  degrees Celsius, about the temperature of a warm bath. It’s circulated throughout the abdomen for approximately 1 ½ hours. The solution is then drained from the abdomen and the incision is closed.

HIPEC is a treatment option for people who have advanced surface spread of cancer within the abdomen, without disease involvement outside of the abdomen. The operation is performed under general anesthesia and typically lasts for 6 to 9 hours. However, lengthier procedures may be required.

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Advantages of HIPEC

  • Allows for high doses of chemotherapy
  • Enhances and concentrates chemotherapy within the abdomen
  • Minimizes the rest of the body’s exposure to the chemotherapy
  • Improves chemotherapy absorption and susceptibility of cancer cells
  • Allows for high doses of chemotherapy
  • Enhances and concentrates chemotherapy in abdominal cavity locally
  • Reduces certain systemic side effects of chemotherapy