News Release: Winship Cancer Institute

Sep. 1,  2009

News Tip: Heated Chemotherapy after Surgery Improves Results for Abdominal Cancers

News Article ImageDr. Charles Staley

Cancer of the colon, ovaries, appendix or other organs within the abdomen often spreads to the lining of the abdominal cavity, a condition is known as peritoneal surface malignancy. Until recently, treatment options for this form of cancer only provided relief from symptoms.  

Emory University Hospital is now using a "one-two punch" combination therapy to slow or prevent recurrence of this cancer. Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemoperfusion (HIPEC) is a procedure done immediately following surgery that circulates heated chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity where it can penetrate cancerous tissue. Heat at 42 C (107 F) destroys cancer cells and enhances the power of chemotherapy.   

"It's a combination of surgery and targeted chemotherapy," says Charles Staley, MD, chief of surgical oncology at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. "By bathing the abdomen with heated chemotherapy immediately following surgery we can administer a higher dose of medication than would normally be tolerated by a patient if given intravenously, which is the traditional way chemotherapy is administered."

During surgery, Staley will remove all visible tumors throughout the abdomen, a procedure known as cytoreductive surgery. Following surgery, while still in the operating room, Staley will administer the HIPEC treatment, which takes about two hours.   

"The procedure also improves drug absorption with minimal exposure to the rest of the body," says Staley. "This way, the normal side effects of chemotherapy can be avoided."  

Recent studies have shown the prognosis of patients with peritoneal surface malignancy improved with HIPEC after complete cytoreductive surgery. An article in The Cancer Journal earlier this year outlined results of survival and quality of life data in and concluded that the procedure is recommended for those patients who are fit to undergo major surgery.  

For more information on the HIPEC procedure, go to


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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