There is some relief in store for cancer patients as doctors at the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been doing research on a new type of chemotherapy, known as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). HIPEC is a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment that is delivered directly to the abdomen during surgery.

In 2015, AIIMS started research on 57 patients which is still continuing. The result of HIPEC is better than normal chemotherapy and it decreases the rate of cancer recurring among these patients.

Dr M D Ray, who is part of the faculty of surgical oncology at AIIMS, said the research on HIPEC started in 2015 on 57 patients. These patients are checked every three months.

“Before patients receive HIPEC treatment, doctors perform cytoreductive surgery to remove visible tumours within the abdomen. Cytoreductive surgery is accomplished using various surgical techniques. Once as many tumors as possible have been removed, the heated, sterilised chemotherapy solution is delivered to the abdomen to penetrate and destroy remaining cancer cells,” said Dr Ray.

The chemotherapy solution is heated to 42 degree Celsius, when it is provided to the patient. After HIPEC, there are only 5 per cent chances of the patients getting cancer again.

Dr Ray said this chemotherapy has shown good results in patients worldwide. “Even patients who are suffering from different types of cancer in AIIMS and received this chemotherapy showed signs of improvement,” he said, adding that their life-term has increased.

Dr Ray said some global research has indicated an increase in a patient’s life span by eight years. Earlier, it was difficult to save the life of a patient in an advanced stage of cancer. But with the help of this chemotherapy, it becomes possible.

Some of the deadliest cancers which can be treated with the HIPEC are ovarian cancer, appendicular cancer, gastric cancer, colon cancer, sarcoma cancer (it is a very aggressive cancer and it is mostly found in the young), said Dr Ray.

It is different from normal chemotherapy because unlike systemic chemotherapy delivery, which circulates throughout the body, HIPEC delivers chemotherapy directly to cancer cells in the abdomen. This allows for higher doses of chemotherapy treatment. Heating the solution may also improve the absorption of chemotherapy drugs by tumours and destroy microscopic cancer cells that remain in the abdomen after surgery.