HIPEC is an alternative and innovative method of delivering chemotherapy, which is commonly used to treat many types of cancer, to the body. Unlike traditional chemotherapy that is delivered intravenously, HIPEC delivers chemotherapy directly into the abdomen making it a good option for cancers that originated in or have spread to the abdominal cavity.
How does HIPEC work?
First, your surgeon removes any visible tumors from the abdomen. Next, HIPEC delivers heated chemotherapy directly inside the abdomen to help destroy any remaining cancer cells and very small tumors that cannot be seen by the surgeon. This is because the chemotherapy circulates inside the abdomen, allowing it to reach more places. The goal of HIPEC is to prevent these cells from growing into new tumors and causing the cancer to return.
What are the benefits of HIPEC procedures?
- HIPEC allows for a higher concentration of chemotherapy to be delivered into the abdomen more effectively and safer than standard chemotherapy, which is delivered intravenously.
- This type of chemotherapy is best at killing cancer cells that are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
- Chemotherapy delivered through HIPEC causes fewer side effects than intravenous chemotherapy. This is because the high concentrations of chemotherapy solution are unable to cross what is known as the peritoneal plasma barrier.
- Experts say that pairing surgery and HIPEC together may be more beneficial than chemotherapy alone.
Am I a candidate for HIPEC?
Typical HIPEC patients are those with certain Stage IV abdominal cancers. Many are seeking an alternative to traditional chemotherapy or radiation therapy, as these options offer limited success treating advanced abdominal cancers. Patients also may have been told that no other treatment will work, but are still hoping to find a solution.
But HIPEC is not for everyone. At Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute (DDI), our multidisciplinary team of experts can conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if you are a candidate. In addition to having Stage IV abdominal cancers, other factors that will be considered include any other existing medical conditions, the location of the cancer, surgical history and the patient’s overall physical strength.
Lisa Smolder with daughter Alicia Kinsey and new granddaughter Eliza Marie Kinsey
Lisa Smolder has talked to several doctors, and no one knows what is wrong with her.
During a scheduled hysterectomy, the surgeon found a cancerous cyst on Lisa’s ovary. In January 2011, her Ob/Gyn removed it. But while inside, there was another surprise: “My doctor said I had the weirdest looking appendix she had ever seen,” Lisa said.
With the combination of her appendix and the cyst, Lisa’s doctor thought she should have her test results sent to other hospitals. Lisa’s friend, Dr. Dawn Myers Layne, performed Internet research, and discovered some news articles about the “highly qualified” Sricharan Chalikonda, MD, and his HIPEC procedures, being performed at Cleveland Clinic.
Driving to Cleveland, Lisa met with Dr. Chalikonda and later scheduled a procedure. The night before the surgery, Lisa and her family were very concerned, but Dr. Chalikonda came late that night and answered all of their questions.
“It was amazing that he would come in, on his own time, and help me understand everything,” she said. “And I’m glad he did.”
During the surgery, the surgeons found some cancer on the stomach lining, which led the surgical team to remove 27 lymph nodes. “If Dr. Chalikonda didn’t help me understand why I needed the surgery, I might not be here right now,” she said. “He – along with his team – came to check on me often, in my hospital room, after the surgery. He was very caring, and eager to answer any questions or concerns I had. They were wonderful.”
While recovery has been slow, Lisa is feeling much better. She continues to see her doctors for follow-up appointments. While no one has yet discovered why she had cancerous cysts, she is having discussions with researchers. They hope to discover why these cysts appeared, and how this will help diagnose other patients in the future.
“I was told that HIPEC is the ‘mother of all surgeries,’ simply because it is so exhaustive and traumatic to the body,” she said. “They said that while surgery was the best way to eliminate my cancer, it was a huge experience for my body, but one that definitely saved my life.”