Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemoperfusion (HIPEC)

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Among the top in cancer research and care. The only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West.

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Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion is a new way to give chemotherapy. Hyperthermic means heated. HIPEC puts heated chemo drugs right into the abdomen. For patients with certain advanced cancers that have spread to the lining of the abdomen, HIPEC can be a source for new hope.

Huntsman Cancer Institute is one of only a handful of hospitals in the United States offering HIPEC.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is HIPEC?

In HIPEC, surgeons first remove any tumors they can see in the patient’s abdomen. A special machine pumps heated chemo liquid into the abdomen. The chemo touches any cancer cells and tumors that are too small to see. After 90 minutes, the chemo is taken out.

What conditions can HIPEC treat?

HIPEC is often the main treatment for a rare condition called pseudomyxoma peritonei. HIPEC is also used to treat a disease called peritoneal mesothelioma.

Other patients who may benefit from HIPEC have late-stage cancers of organs in the abdomen such as the appendix and colon.

Some patients with gynecologic cancers can also benefit from HIPEC.

Will my insurance cover HIPEC?

Studies have shown that HIPEC is a safe procedure that works for some cancers and conditions. Depending on the cancer type, many insurance providers will cover HIPEC treatment. HCI’s billing and financial services staff can help verify insurance coverage.

What is the treatment process like?

HIPEC combines surgery and chemo at the same time. The surgery involves an up-and-down incision in the abdomen. All cancer the doctor can see is removed in a procedure called cytoreduction. This may also involve removing organs that have cancer attached.

After surgery while the patient is still in the operating room, chemo begins. A pump heats the chemo liquid to more than 104°F. The liquid circulates through the abdomen for 90 minutes.

What is the recovery process like?

Recovery time is different for each person.

After HIPEC, the patient usually stays in HCI’s intensive care unit for 1–2 days. Then the person moves to the regular recovery unit. Most patients are in the hospital for 7–10 days. A week after going home from the hospital, the care team sees the patients in the clinic for follow-up, and later as needed. Recovery at home usually takes another 10–12 weeks. This is about the same as for any major surgery in the abdomen.

What are the possible risks?

The possible risks and side effects of HIPEC are the same as for abdomen surgery:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Need for more surgery

Chemo can also lower the number of red and white cells in the patient’s blood. The combination of surgery and chemo can also cause extreme tiredness and weight loss. Both of these usually stop 6–8 weeks after HIPEC.

Most people do not lose their hair with HIPEC.

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