Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Some cancers, including primary colon, stomach, appendix, and ovarian cancers that have spread to the lining of the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity, can be challenging to treat effectively with standard chemotherapy, even after surgery to remove the visible tumor.  

However, an advanced treatment option called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) combines surgery with a new approach to delivering chemotherapy, improving chemotherapy drug absorption with minimal exposure to the rest of the body and better patient outcomes.

For some patients, HIPEC will achieve a long-term cure for their abdominal cancers. In other cases, HIPEC allows doctors to treat incurable cancers more like chronic diseases and less like terminal illnesses.

Here’s how it works.

Immediately after removing the visible tumors through what’s called cytoreductive surgery (CRS), our surgeons pump highly concentrated doses of heated chemotherapy inside a patient’s abdomen.

The patient is rocked back and forth on the operating table for about 1 ½ to 2 hours to ensure that the drug washes over all areas of the abdomen, killing any cancer cells that remain after surgery and reducing the risk of cancer recurrence. After the treatment is complete, the chemo solution is washed out, and the surgical incisions are closed.

How does HIPEC compare to standard chemotherapy treatment?

Compared to standard chemotherapy, HIPEC provides a more potent, effective dose of the cancer-fighting drugs directly to the abdomen, but with fewer side effects than chemotherapy given systemically through a port.

HIPEC offers several advantages over standard chemotherapy treatment: 

  • It is a single treatment combining surgery and chemotherapy treatment instead of the more standard approach of surgery followed by recovery and then multiple chemotherapy treatments over several weeks.
  • 90% of the drug stays within the abdominal cavity, decreasing toxic effects on the rest of the body.
  • It delivers a more potent dose of chemotherapy.

How about recovery?

For about two weeks after HIPEC treatment, patients will need to receive their nutrition through a feeding tube or IV while the digestive system recovers from the intense dose of chemotherapy.  The average hospitalization is about seven to 10 days.

Who is a candidate for HIPEC?

The best candidates are those who have been diagnosed with:

MD Anderson at Cooper is a leader in HIPEC and other advanced cancer care.

Our HIPEC team is highly experienced and is one of just a few locations in our region that offers this advanced treatment option.

At MD Anderson at Cooper, our multidisciplinary HIPEC program includes cancer surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, and other cancer specialists.

Our team is also at the forefront of immunotherapy and cellular therapy, harnessing the immune system's power to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

To learn more about HIPEC, call MD anderson Cancer Center at Cooper at 855.MDA.COOPER (855.632.2667).