BACKGROUND: Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have shown that surgery plus inserting heated chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdomen can improve survival rates, as well as the quality of life, in patients who suffer from several types of cancer. These cancers include tumors of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal cancer, which affects the lining of the abdominal wall) that have spread to multiple organs, and advanced ovarian cancer. Patients with these types of cancer usually fare poorly with conventional cancer treatments.
HOW IT WORKS: There are two stages to the new procedure. First, as much as possible of the cancer is removed with surgery. This often involves multiple organs. Next, while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon injects a heated saline solution combined with the chemotherapy drug directly into the abdominal cavity. Scientists have found that tumor tissue is more sensitive to heat than normal tissue. So raising the temperature of the drug makes the tumor less resistant to chemotherapy.
THE RESULTS: The results from four separate studies conducted on animals indicate that the new procedure could kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. And delivering the drug immediately after the surgery means that more of the drug remains near the tumor instead of spreading throughout the entire body. This means less of the usual unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.