Finding the best patients for hot chemo
HIPEC, or hot chemo, is a treatment for advanced abdominal cancers. It’s a life-saving option for some patients, but in others, doctors have to stop surgery because of complications. Researchers are now working to determine which patients may be at a higher risk of an aborted procedure.
For newlyweds Brittany and Ryan Little their first- year anniversary gift is priceless, Brittney is still here. At just age 27, doctors diagnosed the chronic pain in Brittney’s abdomen as PMP, an advanced type of appendix cancer. It was the last thing either expected.
“We had just gotten married in August, you know, four months earlier,” Ryan Little recalled.
“It just, it didn’t feel real,” Brittney Little shared.
Doctors recommended surgery, followed by internal chemotherapy known as HIPEC. Doctors surgically remove the tumor, and then bathe the abdominal cavity in heated chemotherapy.
“That was pretty much my only option at that time, because of the extent,” explained Brittney.
Doctor Kate Baron and her colleagues are trying to determine which patients do best with HIPEC. In up to thirty percent of the cases surgeons begin the procedure and have to stop.
“It’s a very dramatic situation because aborted surgery itself doesn’t have any benefits for patients but can lead to complications or even delay other treatments like chemotherapy,” Elaborated Ekaterina “Kate” Baron, MD, a surgical research fellow at the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy.
Baron’s study found screening for elevated tumor and inflammatory markers in addition to imaging could help doctors plan before HIPEC surgery. For Ryan and Brittney no amount of planning could prepare them for their first big challenge
“Well, I guess when they say in sickness and in health, I didn’t quite think a sickness would come that quick after marriage,” recalled Brittney.
“Our future didn’t end; it just changed a little bit,” Ryan shared.
Getting better, and stronger a day at a time.
HIPEC has several advantages for patients. It’s only one treatment done immediately after surgery, so it doesn’t require several trips back for treatment. It also allows for a higher concentration of chemotherapy to be delivered into the abdomen.
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