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Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy gives doctors a boost in treating abdominal cancer

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022
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Circulating heated chemotherapy in the abdomen after cancer surgery helps young mother fight appendix cancer.

WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Chemotherapy is a lifesaver in cancer treatment. But an IV isn't always the best way to deliver it.

A different technique is helping make a difference for some abdominal cancers.

After Jennifir Brogdon gave birth to her son in 2018, something didn't feel right.

"I was experiencing pain in my lower abdomen," Jennifir recalls.

Doctors told her she was just healing from her C-section.

But the pain never went away.

Last January, after pressing doctors, Jennifir was finally diagnosed with cancer of the appendix.

Her fiance's friend recommended Fox Chase Cancer Center, where she connected with Dr. Stephanie Greco.

Because the cancer had spread along the lining of Jennifir's abdomen, Dr Greco said she'd be a candidate for HIPEC - or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy.

After the visible cancer is surgically removed -

"We will place some tubing into the abdomen that will deliver the chemotherapy through a heated circuit or pump," explains Dr. Greco.

"For a period of 90 minutes, usually. And after that, that medicine is removed," she adds.

Dr Greco says the heat makes remaining tumor cells more sensitive to the drug yet doesn't harm other internal organs.

"She made me feel very comfortable with it. She explained it very well," says Jennifir of her concerns.

HIPEC has a good track record over its years of use.

"The data, particularly for appendix, is very good," she notes.

"I've had about three CAT scans since my surgery. And they've all been clear with no new progression," says Jennifir.

She feels great about the high-tech treatment that's enabled her to be here for her son.

But she knows it almost didn't happen, had she not kept pressing for answers.

"If your body is telling you something and doctors are saying otherwise, get a second opinion. Go to a different doctor, but you know your body better than anyone else does," she advises.

Jennifir says there's been a silver lining to the challenging recovery from surgery and six months of regular chemotherapy afterward - she's had a lot more time with her son.