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Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Hospitals Quirónsalud Murcia and Torrevieja apply hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Implementing this complex technique which requires highly skilled centres, increases the survival of patients with ovarian and colon cancer.

Having a personalized and multidisciplinary medical approach to cancer, and therapies such as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) – also referred to as the Sugarbaker technique – increases the survival chances of patients with widely spread neoplasms in the abdominal cavity.

According to Doctor Pedro Bretcha, president of the Spanish Surgical Oncology Society (SEOQ) and surgical oncology specialist at Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja,

The use of technology is important, but the primary requirement is to have a multidisciplinary vision of cancer, dealt with by a specialized team, because treatment should not be given exclusively by a surgeon, an oncologist, or a gynaecologist, but should be controlled in a consensual manner and adapted to each patient.

This treatment is currently applied in Hospitals Quirónsalud Murcia and Quirónsalud Torrevieja, on patients who are diagnosed with peritoneal carcinomatosis, a pathology which consists in the spread of a primary tumour (digestive or gynaecological) in the abdominal cavity, and affects other organs within the abdomen. Doctor Pedro Cascales, coordinator of the Spanish Surgical Peritoneal Oncology Group (GECOP), and specialist at Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia claims,

Around 70% of patients, with ovarian cancer for example, are diagnosed in advanced stages, when the carcinomatosis is already present. It is these patients who, with the correct approach, can achieve unimaginable results that depend largely on the surgical team they are treated by.

In fact, using HIPEC can increase the chances of survival in patients with early stage epithelial ovarian cancer. What’s more, its use does not add any complications to the surgical procedure, according to a clinical study published in the prestigious scientific magazine The New England Journal of Medicine, last month.

The ‘Sugarbaker’ technique doubles the survival rate for colon cancer

This technique was developed by Doctor Paul H. Sugarbaker in 1982. It consists of the removal of the visible tumour, and later the infusion of HIPEC (at 43o C) in the abdominal cavity to eradicate all invisible malignant cells, as the heat enhances the effects of chemotherapy.

This technique has achieved survival rates that have not been registered in any other established treatment, with a colon cancer survival rate of 50% to 5 years.

HIPEC treatment enables the combination of high doses of chemotherapy drugs which focus on the affected area, and less systemic toxicity due to the limitation in the spread of the drug from the peritoneal cavity to the blood stream thanks to the features of the drug’s own peritoneal membrane. Its use requires highly skilled centres with multidisciplinary and specialized teams in Surgical Oncology, as it is a very complex technique.

The surgical oncology team at Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja run by Doctor Farré and Doctor Bretcha, was one of the first in 2001 to introduce this technique in Spain to treat peritoneal carcinomatosis. Since then they have performed hundreds of procedures on patients with this condition and varied tumour origins.

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