A 63-year-old woman came to Kauvery Hospital recently with a bloated stomach. An examination revealed that she had a cancerous tumour in her abdomen and required immediate treatment. She had visited several healthcare facilities but the tumour was not diagnosed.
U.P. Srinivasan, consultant gastrointestinal surgeon, said, “She had been to different healthcare centres previously and none were able to identify that it was a cancerous tumour. She was denied surgery owing to the complexity of the condition as she had undergone multiple surgeries, including a hysterectomy.” A PET scan revealed that the tumour had not spread to other nearby organs. “Hence, we recommended debulking surgery and the hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) procedure, which was the best possible option available for this patient,” he said. The procedure involves pumping a heated chemotherapy drug into the abdominal cavity.
“At a stage where surgery alone will not be enough, we recommend the HIPEC procedure. In this method, first the visible tumour cells are removed through surgery. Thereafter, a few tubes are inserted and a device pumps the chemotherapy drug into the abdominal cavity at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius, which is monitored using an intra-abdominal temperature probe. This inflow of liquid goes on for 90 minutes, which impacts the micro-cancer cells. We then remove the tubes, check for any bruises or bleeding in the abdomen and complete the procedure,” he said. In this procedure, the drug goes directly to the tumour cells and does not produce the kind of systemic side effects that come with traditional chemotherapy.
The procedure took around nine hours after which the patient was shifted to the intensive care unit. The procedure is done with the support of a medical oncologist, an intensivist and an anaesthesiologist, Dr. Srinivasan said.
HIPEC treatment improves the longevity of life for the patient in advanced stages of cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of 20% to 30%. It also eliminates the spread of the tumour to other organs and provides a better quality of life.
Hospital co-founder and executive director Aravindan Selvaraj said, “This technology of HIPEC is a boon for patients who are finding it hard to survive in the advanced stages of cancer. However, good infrastructure, a well-qualified team and expertise are required to execute the whole process.”
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