New Combo Fuels Fight Against Abdominal Cancer

Heated drugs, surgery may help people battle disease better

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TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A treatment that combines surgery with the insertion of heated chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdomen can improve survival rates in people with abdominal cancer.

That good news comes from a study in the January issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center researchers looked at 109 people with peritoneal carcinomatosis who were treated between 1991 and 1997.

All the study participants had surgery to remove as much of the tumor and surrounding cancerous tissue as possible. That was immediately followed by intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy (IPHC).

With IPHC, the patient's core temperature is cooled to just above 93 degrees F. When surgery is completed, catheters are placed into the abdomen. These catheters deliver heated chemotherapy drugs directly to the abdominal cavity.

The chemotherapy drugs are heated to a maximum of 105 degrees F. During the two- hour procedure, the abdomen is massaged to improve the distribution of the chemotherapy drugs.

The people in this study who received this treatment had a median overall survival of 16 months. Normally, most patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis survive three to six months without treatment.

Surgery alone to treat this kind of cancer has proven ineffective, as have brachytherapy, systemic chemotherapy and external beam radiation therapy.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about hyperthermia in cancer treatment.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Jan. 13, 2003

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