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Hyperthermic Intraoperative Peritoneal Chemotherapy

Hyperthermic intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy — or HIPEC — is an advanced treatment for colorectal, gastric, ovarian and other cancers originating in the abdominal area that have spread to the peritoneum, the membrane covering the abdominal walls and organs.

While traditional chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective for patients with such late-stage or recurrent cancers, we are committed to incorporating innovative technologies such as HIPEC into patient treatment plans when appropriate. 

UC Irvine Medical Center is the only university hospital in Orange County — and one of only a handful of hospitals in Southern California — to offer HIPEC along with surgery to remove visible tumors. HIPEC is a complex procedure that requires an experienced surgical team and the resources of a high-level medical center to offer the best chance of a successful outcome.

As members of the UC Irvine Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Orange County's only National Cancer Institute-designed comprehensive cancer center, our colorectal oncologists, gynecologic oncologists and medical oncologists are leaders in developing and performing the latest cancer treatments and therapies, including HIPEC.

Is HIPEC right for you? To schedule a consultation, please call us at 714-456-8000.

Meet our HIPEC specialists ›

What is HIPEC?

HIPEC is a chemotherapy treatment that is performed after the patient’s surgeon has removed all visible cancer cells in a procedure called cytoreductive, or debulking, surgery.

After debulking, a heated solution of chemotherapy is pumped directly into the patient’s abdominal cavity. The patient’s belly is then massaged to circulate the chemotherapy solution throughout the abdomen to reach any microscopic cancer cells that may have spread.

Once the "chemo bath" is completed, the solution is drained, the abdominal area is rinsed and the incisions are closed.

Patients usually remain in the hospital for several days before being released. Recovery can take several weeks. In addition to follow-up visits, patients undergo periodic blood tests and radiographic imaging to check for signs of the disease.

Cytoreductive surgery, followed by HIPEC, is most safely performed by experienced cancer specialists at high-volume cancer centers such as ours.

What cancers are treated with HIPEC?

Typically, HIPEC is used to treat advanced and recurrent malignancies of the:

What are the benefits of HIPEC?

  • Higher concentrations of chemotherapy can be administered directly to the area where the cancer has spread.
  • Heated chemotherapy drugs are more effective at penetrating and killing malignant cells that have spread beyond the original tumor site or sites.
  • Patients experience fewer chemotherapy-related side effects because the drugs are contained within the abdominal cavity and are only minimally absorbed into the system.

Who is a candidate for HIPEC?

HIPEC is a procedure used primarily for late-stage and recurrent cancers that have spread beyond the initial tumor site within the abdominal cavity. Patients also must have the physical stamina for the procedure, which is a lengthy one when combined with cytoreductive surgery.

Your physicians will evaluate your diagnosis, your medical history and your overall health to determine whether HIPEC is appropriate for you.

How successful is HIPEC?

Studies show that the HIPEC procedure, when combined with cytoreductive surgery, is an effective therapy that has improved survival outcomes for appropriately selected patients.


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