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Mesothelioma Cytoreduction with HIPEC

The cytoreduction with HIPEC is performed on people who have peritoneal mesothelioma, regardless of how large of a tumor they have.  The procedure debulks (reduces) the amount of cancer cells visible in the abdominal cavity.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC Procedure

When all visible signs of mesothelioma have been removed from the abdominal tissue, heated chemotherapy medications are placed inside the abdominal cavity before closing the surgical wound. Some studies suggest that chemotherapy agents are more effective when heated.

This is a two-stage procedure:

  • First, an incision is made in the abdomen and mesothelioma areas are identified.  These are removed so that all visible signs of tumor are taken out of the abdomen.
  • Then, heated chemotherapy agents are applied into the abdominal cavity. There they are in a good position to kill off any remaining cells from the abdominal space.

When a chemotherapy agent is placed near the cancer cells, it has a better chance of succeeding in killing off these cancer cells compared to an injection of the drug.  Even cells that can’t be seen with the naked eye are able to be killed by heated chemotherapy drugs.

Extended Life Span with HIPEC

While cytoreduction with HIPEC doesn’t work for everyone, some patients have been found to live long past the five-year mark, even when they were diagnosed with advanced stage disease.  In one research study, the survival time in patients receiving the procedure was increased by 50 percent when compared to those who did not have the surgical procedure.

The procedure has been successfully performed in patients with early stage disease as well as those with advanced stage disease.  It is considered a possible curative procedure and a palliative procedure, depending on how advanced the disease is.

Finding the Right HIPEC Specialist

This procedure was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, who does a great many of these procedures on an annual basis.  The procedure is considered controversial by some but, as it is the only surgical procedure available to peritoneal mesothelioma patients, many patients with this disease decide to have it.  In some cases, the survival rate is greatly improved.  Other surgeons who treat peritoneal mesothelioma patients exist in the U.S.

If you are a veteran with peritoneal mesothelioma, check with your mesothelioma specialist to see if they are familiar with the cytoreduction with HIPEC procedure and find out how many of these procedures they have done.

Other Treatments

Because the cytoreduction with HIPEC procedure combines surgery and chemotherapy, other chemotherapy agents are often not administered unless it is clear that the cancer has returned.

Patients who receive all three modalities of cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy) usually live longer and have a better quality of life when compared to people who have only one or two different types of cancer treatment.

Sources & Author Edited: September 1, 2015

About the Writer

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

LCDR Carl Jewett is a retired Naval Officer, having served just under 24 years in the submarine force. He currently serves as a VA Accredited Claims Agent and as the Executive Director of the Veterans Assistance Network. He specializes in assisting veterans filing VA claims for asbestos-related disabilities such as mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

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