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The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital is one of the few medical centers in the United States to offer Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemoperfusion (HIPEC) for children, adolescents and young adults with certain advanced abdominal tumors.
HIPEC treatments usually occur after aggressive surgical removal of all visible abdominal tumors. During HIPEC therapy, specially trained surgeons, oncologists and perfusionists deliver a heated chemotherapy agent directly into a patient's abdominal (peritoneal) cavity through a catheter. The goal of HIPEC is to eradicate any small tumor deposits that cannot be seen or safely removed by the surgeon. In addition to eradicating tumors through direct exposure to the chemotherapy agent, HIPEC causes in heat-induced changes in the blood flow to tumor cells compared to normal cells.
Because HIPEC is administered directly into the abdomen, it is not absorbed into the blood stream and has fewer effects on the rest of the body. Physicians may administer additional medications to further minimize the effects of any absorbed chemotherapy.
Patients with cancers that affect or spread to the protective abdominal lining, the peritoneum, are particularly good candidates for HIPEC treatment. The most common peritoneal cancer in children and young adults is desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor (DSRCT). DSRCT is a rare and aggressive form of cancer, and patients with the best outcomes are those who have had near-complete surgical removal of the tumor by a skilled cancer surgeon combined with HIPEC treatments. Other cancers that can be treated with HIPEC include metastatic colon cancer, certain types of sarcoma, and malignant ovarian germ cell tumors.
DSRCT is rare, affecting only 300 patients each year. As a result, it is important to see a team of oncologists, surgeons, nurses and ancillary staff who have expertise in treating this type of malignancy. Led by surgeon Grace Mak, MD, the multidisciplinary team at Comer Children's provides advanced, comprehensive treatment for each patient. Our abdominal surgeons are skilled in traditional and minimally invasive techniques. In addition, our team works with patients and families to make the process as easy as possible as they proceed through this treatment.