Patients with gynecologic cancer have new hope in a novel technology now offered at the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center. A team of cancer specialists, led by Robert DeBernardo, M.D., is among the first in the nation to launch a dedicated program using Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) to treat ovarian, endometrial and select other cancers.
Performed immediately following surgery, HIPEC delivers heated chemotherapy through a 'hot bath' into the abdominal cavity, where it can penetrate diseased tissue directly. After the surgeon removes as much visible cancer as possible, a heated, sterilized chemotherapy solution is circulated throughout the abdomen through a technologically sophisticated perfusion system to destroy the remaining cancer cells.
"This is a new and potentially revolutionary way of treating women with gynecologic cancers, which tend to be quite responsive to chemotherapy," said Dr. DeBernardo, gynecologic oncologist at UH Case Medical Center and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Our preliminary data and experience has been overwhelmingly positive and the therapy has been well-tolerated and effective. HIPEC promises to extend lives in a meaningful way."
HIPEC has been used for years in patients with colon, pseudomyxomas and appendiceal cancers, as well as mesothelioma, cancers that in general are not responsive to chemotherapy, but it is now viewed as a promising new treatment for gynecologic malignancy.
UH Case Medical Center plans to launch several phase I trials for patients this spring, including a first-of-its kind study involving the use of heated chemotherapy for ovarian cancer that has spread to the thoracic cavity, a procedure called Hyperthermic Intrathoracic Chemotherapy (HITEC). These hard-to-treat cancers typically recur and HITEC is performed after minimally invasive lung surgery.
A second study will focus on advanced ovarian cancer patients in remission who have finished initial therapy of surgery and chemotherapy and then undergo HIPEC to prevent recurrence. A third study will involve patients whose cancer recurs and HIPEC is performed following surgical resection of their disease. A fourth is for patients on a neoadjuvant regimen who have had initial chemotherapy and HIPEC is incorporated into their surgery.