Putting the heat on cancer

PHILADELPHIA - April 27, 2014

Donald McGee enjoys every moment with sisters Peggy and Mary.

Three years ago, cancer nearly cut his life short.

After losing a lot of weight and feeling sick, Donald went for tests.

What didn't look serious at first turned out to be stage 4 colon cancer and Donald was told there was little hope.

"The cancer had obstructed his colon, but had also spread outside of the colon," Dr. Wilbur Bowne of Drexel College of Medicine said.

First, he got standard chemotherapy to reduce the tumor's size, then surgery to remove as much as possible.

During that, Dr. Bowne added something else - heated chemotherapy.

"With a pump device, it is circulated within the abdomen for approximately 90 minutes," Bowne said. "It bathes everything. We agitate the abdomen during that to provide complete, uniform distribution."

The heat drives the chemo deeper into cancer cells, but won't hurt normal cells.

Though it's high-dose, there are actually fewer side effects.

While heat treatment isn't a cure, it reduces the amount of IV chemotherapy.

Donald is now cancer-free, and doesn't need additional chemo.

And thanks to his sisters' cooking, his weight is back to normal.

"I'm able to work, I'm able to do everything I done before," McGee said.

Dr. Bowne says heated chemo has shown promise for colon, ovarian, stomach, and some other cancers.

In clinical trials, patients given 6 months or less to live survived 5 to 7 years.

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