HIPEC Advantages and Risks

Understanding the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure is an important step in your decision making process. That’s why we’ve asked surgical oncologist, Martin Goodman, MD to provide detail on the advantages and possible risks of the HIPEC procedure. 

When is HIPEC an option?

Cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is an innovative procedure used to treat cancers that have originated in or spread to the abdominal cavity, such as appendiceal cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei, colon cancer, gastric cancer, ovarian cancer, and peritoneal mesothelioma. 

What are the advantages of the HIPEC procedure?

Cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC has been around since the early 1980’s and there are numerous scientific studies that show it can improve overall patient survival rates and quality of life. 

Some types of cancers, such as those located in the abdominal cavity, are challenging to treat.  Although there have been recent advancements in oral and intravenous chemotherapy agents, they can be less effective when the tumor resides on the surface of the abdominal wall and organs.  When the cancer is found only on the surface of organs and has not spread into the blood stream, cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC is a good option for some patients. 

What are the possible risks of HIPEC?

When undergoing any surgical procedure, there is always the possibility that a complication can arise.  The most common complications following cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC are bleeding and infection, which can occur with any surgery.  Other less common complications include:

  • The formation of blood clots in the legs that can travel to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. 
  • Development of an enterocutaneous fistula (an opening between the intestines and the abdominal skin) or an anastomotic leak (a leak that may occur when sections of the intestines are surgically reconnected).  
  • Inability to consume enough calories after surgery.  When this happens, patients are given nutrition intravenously (TPN) to help keep up with their caloric needs.  

Learn more about the procedure by reading our HIPEC FAQs >