Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Surgeon Ryan Merkow, MD, in surgery

Cancer is tough. At UChicago Medicine, HIPEC is tougher.

HIPEC is an aggressive, targeted surgical technique that attacks abdominal cancer with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy. At the end of surgery to remove tumors, the patient's abdominal cavity is bathed in a heated, highly concentrated chemotherapy solution to eliminate any residual cancer. UChicago Medicine is one of the few hospitals that offers HIPEC for both adult and pediatric patients.

How Does HIPEC Work?

Hyperthermic (or Heated) Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a surgical procedure that’s giving new hope to patients with abdominal cancers. Immediately after removing visible tumors through what’s called cytoreductive surgery, our surgeons pump a powerful dose of heated chemotherapy inside a patient’s abdomen.

The 108-degree chemo bath circulates throughout the abdominal area, also called the peritoneal cavity, delivering highly concentrated doses of hot chemotherapy. That allows doctors to intensify the drugs’ cancer-fighting abilities while directly targeting cancerous cells. After about 90 minutes of the infusion, the chemo is washed out and incisions are closed.

For patients with early cancers, our surgeons are frequently able to perform HIPEC through smaller incisions using minimally invasive techniques (also known as laparoscopic surgery). This approach is not widely available.
HIPEC: Step-by-Step Video

View a step-by-step animation of how HIPEC works to kill cancer cells after surgery to remove abdominal cancers.

Watch Video

What are the Benefits of HIPEC?

Patients should consider HIPEC because it has:

  • Fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy because the cancer-fighting agents don’t circulate throughout the whole body;
  • Deeper penetration of the medicine, thanks to high temperatures that cause blood vessels to expand;
  • Greater effectiveness at killing cancer cells in the abdomen

Who Is a Candidate for HIPEC?

Our HIPEC team is one of the most experienced in the nation, and one of just a few locations that offers the treatment to children and adults. The best candidates are those who have been diagnosed with:

For some patients, HIPEC will achieve a long-term cure for their abdominal cancers. In other cases, HIPEC allows doctors to treat incurable cancers more like a chronic disease and less like a terminal illness. 

A Leader in HIPEC Care

At UChicago Medicine, our HIPEC team includes nationally known HIPEC surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses and cancer scientists. This level of HIPEC expertise is unmatched in the greater Chicago area. Our HIPEC team members are advancing cancer science in several ways, from studying how to prevent the spread of cancer (metastasis) to investigating how the microbiome, or community of microorganisms living in the body, plays a role in disease. We're also at the forefront of immunotherapy, harnessing the power of the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Why Should I Choose UChicago Medicine for Cancer Care?

The University of Chicago Medicine has been one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers since it began treating patients in 1927. Home to a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – one of only 51 in the country – UChicago Medicine and its world-renowned team include hundreds of physicians, nurses and scientists. Known for innovative clinical trials, compassionate patient care and leading-edge research into cancer treatment and prevention, UChicago Medicine is committed to addressing cancer from every angle. 

Request an Appointment

This secure form to request an appointment with a UChicago Medicine HIPEC expert will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment.

You can also make an appointment with our providers by:

Scheduling a virtual video visit to see a provider from the comfort of your home

Requesting an online second opinion from our specialists 

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-855-702-8222. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


For Referring Physicians

To refer a patient for HIPEC, please call 1-855-702-8222.

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