FAQ: HIPEC and ThermaSolutions

What is HIPEC?
HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) is a procedure used in cancers that have spread to the surface of the peritoneal cavity. A heated and sterile solution with added chemotherapy medication (up to 42ºC) is circulated in the abdomen for approximately 90 minutes with the goal of destruction of any hidden tumor cells. It is applied directly following peritonectomy and/or Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS). HIPEC treatment provides surgeons with the ability to apply high doses of chemotherapy directly into the peritoneal cavity without significant toxicity to the remainder of the body. The effects of the heat may increase the efficacy of the treatment. In this way, the normal side-effects of chemotherapy can be avoided.

What cancers can be treated with HIPEC?
• Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – A build-up of mucus in the peritoneal cavity
• Ovarian Carcinoma – Cancer that forms in the tissue of the ovary
• Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of Appendix – A type of cancer that begins in cells that line the appendix and produces mucin
• Gastric Carcinoma – Cancer that forms in tissues lining the stomach
• Colorectal Carcinoma – Cancer that forms in the colon
• Mesothelioma – A benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumor affecting the lining of the chest or abdomen
• Low-Grade Sarcoma – Sarcoma is a cancer of the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue

How does HIPEC work against cancer?
The HIPEC procedure is built on the following scientific foundations:
• An elevated body temperature, or fever (between 37.5º and 41ºC) does have a beneficial effect on the outcome of infections.
• At temperatures between those of natural fevers and the beginning of tissue destruction (between 41º and 45ºC) heat may have a natural therapeutic role because pathogens are more thermosensitive than normal tissue.
• Living tissue is susceptible to destruction by heat (generally >45ºC).
• Hyperthermia damages the membranes, cytoskeleton and nucleus functions of malignant cells.
• Hyperthermia causes irreversible damage to cellular perspiration of these cells. Heat at 42ºC (107ºF) also pushes cancer cells towards acidosis, which decreases the cells’ viability and transplantability.
• Heat is known to stimulate the immune system causing both increased production of interferon alpha and increased immune surveillance.

Is HIPEC better than systemic chemotherapy?
In the peritoneal area, HIPEC used in combination with surgical tumor removal is associated with improved outcomes when compared with surgery or chemotherapy alone. Because HIPEC directly targets the sites of tumors, a higher concentration of chemotherapy than systemic chemotherapy can be delivered. It is a safer way to deliver the treatment, with fewer side effects since the chemo is only in the body for a short time. HIPEC is delivered directly to cancer cells during the procedure. Traditional systemic chemotherapy is given intravenously and circulated via the bloodstream.

What happens during the HIPEC procedure?
HIPEC is used in conjunction with cytoreductive surgery to physically remove tumors. After the visible cancer is taken from the abdominal cavity, HIPEC is performed. Chemotherapy drugs in a solution are circulated through your abdomen for 60-90 minutes, depending upon physician preference. Because of the elevated temperature of the circulated fluid, the procedure is sometimes known as “hot chemotherapy”. The whole procedure typically lasts between six and nine hours but may take longer.

How does the ThermaSolutions ThermoChem™ device work?

The ThermoChem™ HT-Series is an Intraperitoneal Hyperthermia (IPH) system of specially integrated subsystems and devices for fluid control and accurate temperature maintenance during Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). Simply, the device heats a perfusate and chemotherapy agent that is circulated in the abdominal cavity after cancer-removing surgery.

Is there research on the effectiveness of HIPEC?

The evidence for survivability with various peritoneal-related cancers is growing.  From overall survival rates of 20 months in 2003, 40 months in 2010 to almost 5 years currently, HIPEC is shown effective.  Please read this article on the promise (and delivery) of HIPEC as a cancer treatment.