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Four surgeons in the operating room

Some cancer types are more difficult to treat than others. Cancer that has spread to the lining of the abdominal cavity can be particularly challenging.

We are among only a few academic medical centers offering cytoreductive surgery (debulking) with Heated/Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). We have offered the procedure since 2011.

This innovative treatment option for complex abdominal cancers can effectively treat the following:

  • Pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare cancer that usually starts in the appendix
  • Primary peritoneal mesothelioma, which is caused by ingesting asbestos and develops in the lining of the abdomen
  • Carcinomatosis from appendiceal cancer, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer and ovarian cancer with the disease confined to the abdominal cavity

What Is HIPEC?

HIPEC is almost always performed in conjunction with tumor removal surgery. In HIPEC, a high dose of chemotherapy is heated to more effectively kill cancer cells. The chemotherapy is then circulated through your abdominal cavity. This method allows us to first remove all visible tumors, then directly target chemotherapy to eliminate any remaining invisible cancer cells.

Surgery with HIPEC has been shown to significantly increase life expectancy and reduce the rate of cancer recurrence in select patients.

Patients with advanced abdominal cancers often have debulking surgery with HIPEC after undergoing other therapies. However, in certain cases, it can be used as a first approach to cancer treatment. You should ask your provider if you are a candidate for HIPEC.

What to Expect for HIPEC Treatment at Penn Medicine

Cancer treatment with HIPEC is complex and requires a specialized and experienced team to be done safely and effectively.

At Penn Medicine, our expert surgical and medical oncologists, anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists, and critical care specialists work together through each stage of your treatment, from diagnosis through recovery. The team is led by surgeon Dr. Giorgos Karakousis and also includes Dr. John Miura.

Even if you decide to travel to Penn Medicine for HIPEC treatment, we will form a close relationship with your local oncologist to keep them informed of your care. Learn more about what to expect when traveling to Penn Medicine.

Together we will plan your surgery, begin your recovery and seamlessly transition your care to your local provider. And, if your local hospital or oncologist does not have the expertise or resources to treat your specific case, we will provide you with the advanced medical oncology care you need.

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