Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a cancer treatment that involves filling the abdominal cavity with chemotherapy drugs that have been heated. Also known as “hot chemotherapy,” HIPEC is performed after the surgeon removes tumors or lesions from the abdominal area. 

After all visible tumors are removed, cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug, is heated to 103 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) and pumped through the abdominal cavity. The patient lies on a special cooling blanket to keep their body temperature at safe levels. Surgeons physically rock the patient back and forth on the operating table for about 2 hours to ensure that the drug reaches all areas of the abdomen, killing any cancer cells that remain after surgery and reducing the risk for cancer recurrence.

HIPEC has several advantages over standard chemotherapy: 

  • It is a single treatment done in the operating room, instead of multiple treatments over several weeks
  • 90% of the drug stays within the abdominal cavity, decreasing toxic effects on the rest of the body
  • It allows for a more intense dose of chemotherapy

Heated chemotherapy is used on both adult and pediatric patients to treat soft tissue sarcomas, appendix cancer, Wilms' tumor,desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSRCT) and other cancers in the abdominal cavity.

Side Effects

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy has some side effects. Patients must be prepared to receive nutrition through a feeding tube or IV for about two weeks, while the digestive system recovers from the intense dose of chemotherapy.