Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center launches cutting-edge abdominal cancer surgery program

The program is an advanced treatment option for patients with tumors in the abdominal cavity.

Jacksonville, FL

Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center launched a Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) treatment program, coupled with cytoreductive surgery, this past spring. HIPEC offers a new treatment option for select patients with advanced abdominal cancers that have spread to the peritoneum (inner abdominal lining).

The procedure can be used to treat colorectal cancer, appendiceal cancer, ovarian cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, and gastric (stomach) cancer.

“Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy is critically important because it allows us to offer advanced treatment for patients with tumors in the peritoneum, or belly cavity, for which we previously had few options,” said Niraj Gusani, MD, FACS, chief of the section of surgical oncology at Baptist MD Anderson.

Appendiceal cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, and peritoneal carcinomatosis from colorectal cancer treated with HIPEC have all shown substantial improvement in outcomes compared to historical data. This treatment modality highlights the newest example in the array of therapies Baptist MD Anderson offers for challenging and advanced cases.

HIPEC is combined with cytoreductive surgery, which removes all visible tumors within the peritoneal cavity. The HIPEC technique includes warming and administering chemotherapy directly into the abdomen to treat the microscopic disease that could be lingering in the abdominal lining. The benefits of a HIPEC treatment include applying a high concentration of chemotherapy to the abdominal tumors without as much systemic absorption, therefore reducing side effects.

The chemotherapy fluid is heated to 42 degrees Celsius, (108 degrees Fahrenheit). It circulates with the help of a pump and gentle agitation of the abdominal cavity to ensure it encounters all the exposed surfaces that could harbor cancer. The high temperature increases the penetration and efficacy of the chemotherapy.

“This chemotherapy perfusion, or ‘chemo bath,’ can last anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours and is designed to kill any remaining cancer cells,” said Konstantinos Chouliaras, MD, surgical oncologist at Baptist MD Anderson. “A dedicated team is necessary to perform these long operations that can last 12 to 14 hours.”

Both Drs. Gusani and Chouliaras have experience conducting cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC in their previous roles.

“Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy allows us the best chance to eradicate the tumor, and it may provide the best hope to those who have complex and advanced abdominal cancers,” said Dr. Gusani. “We are excited to implement this unique technique at Baptist MD Anderson and continue to meet the needs of future patients in Northeast Florida and beyond.”

The collaboration between partner programs MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baptist MD Anderson has led to the evolution and development of cutting-edge programs, like HIPEC, that will transform the diagnosis and treatment of patients with abdominal cancer.