What is Heated Chemotherapy?

By Sara Bondell - May 22, 2018

You often hear of chemotherapy when it comes to cancer treatment, but what about heated chemotherapy?

Heated chemotherapy, or hyperthermic intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), can be used to treat cancers that have spread to the lining of the abdominal cavity, such as ovarian cancer. 

The treatment involves filling the abdominal cavity with heated chemotherapy after a surgeon removes tumors from the area. It allows for a higher concentration of chemotherapy to be directed only to the affected area.

While physicians in Moffitt’s Gynecological Oncology Department have delivered HIPEC for a number of years, they have done so sparingly and in a smaller set of ovarian cancer patients who are most likely to benefit. An example would be a patient with a mucinous cancer, a rare type of cancer that is increasingly recognized to be more often from the GI tract than the ovary. In that case, the procedure would be done in concert with a multidisciplinary team, including Moffitt’s gastrointestinal cancer specialists.

“HIPEC is an option for women with some rare forms of cancer or for women who need surgery performed in the middle of their chemotherapy and would have otherwise received an older chemotherapy method,” said Dr. Robert Wenham, chair of Moffitt’s Gynecological Oncology Program. “However, this should be a small number of ovarian cancer patients, as earlier surgery and different methods of delivering chemotherapy may provide superior results.”

Wenham says he is confident some of the new targeted immunotherapy drugs that Moffitt is currently exploring will be the real game changer for ovarian cancer. 

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