Chemo “Bath” is Helping Fight Cancers of the Abdomen and Internal Organs

According to a story from Wink News, an alternative chemotherapy approach is helping patients get rid of cancers of internal organs or otherwise in the abdominal cavity. The approach is called HIPEC. This chemotherapy “bath” is giving patients that otherwise would have to expect relapse a real chance at a cure. Take the case of Lori McIntosh. She began having periods of uncomfortable bloating in 2013, and was soon diagnosed with rare appendiceal cancer.

About Appendiceal Cancer

Appendiceal cancer is very rare, with an estimated .12 cases per 1 million people per year in the US (excluding non-malignant cases). The appendix is connected to the large intestine, and can appear similar to colon cancer. The infrequency of this type of cancer means that there has only been minimal research to study it. Possible risk factors could include smoking, atrophic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), vitamin B-12 deficiency, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Symptoms of appendiceal cancer include bloating, appendicitis, ovarian masses, bowel obstruction, hernia, and abdominal pain. Treatment typically involves the removal of the appendix or bowel resection surgery. Chemotherapy following surgery may be necessary to prevent the cancer from returning. To learn more about appendiceal cancer, click here.

Getting Treated

Lori’s case required surgery, and her doctor, Andrew Lowy, decided to administer HIPEC after the procedure. There was a chance that there were still cancer cells in Lori’s body after the surgery that he simply could not pinpoint. HIPEC can help knock out these final cancer cells that managed to avoid getting removed in surgery.

The Benefits of HIPEC

HIPEC presents some significant advantages over typical chemotherapy. Firstly, the high temperature of the solution—106 degrees—helps the chemo be more potent against cancer cells. The drug can also enter two millimeters of tissue, and the dosage can be more powerful because the chemo is not being circulated throughout the body, where it could cause potential toxicity and undesirable side effects.

It has been five years since Lori has been treated, and in that period her life has more or less returned to normal. She is enthusiastic about the success of her treatment, and is now an active HIPEC ambassador at the University of California San Diego, where she was treated. She talks to patients and their families before the get the procedure.

Dr. Lowy says that HIPEC has also shown success in a variety of other rare cancers, including stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma.

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