Connect With a Top Mesothelioma Doctor

  • Information on top doctors and cancer centers
  • The latest clinical trials and treatment methods
  • Financial information to help with treatment costs
Get Connected

Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) involves circulating heated chemotherapy drugs throughout the abdominal cavity. HIPEC is typically administered after cytoreductive surgery to remove tumors or lesions. HIPEC with cytoreductive surgery has proven effective for treating peritoneal mesothelioma.

01. What Is HIPEC?

What Is HIPEC?

Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a heated chemotherapy wash administered to the abdominal cavity after surgery to remove tumors and lesions. HIPEC is also referred to as chemoperfusion and hyperthermic chemotherapy.

HIPEC is a common treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. It may also be used to treat ovarian cancer, colon cancer, gastric cancer and appendiceal cancer. Researchers continue to study the effectiveness of HIPEC and surgery for cancer treatment.

02. HIPEC and Mesothelioma

How Does HIPEC Treat Mesothelioma?

HIPEC is typically used after cytoreductive surgery to treat peritoneal mesothelioma.

Malignant mesothelioma develops in organ linings. Peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the abdominal linings (peritoneum).

HIPEC involves circulating a heated chemotherapy wash throughout the intraperitoneal cavity. The goal of HIPEC is to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery.

HIPEC may offer patients a variety of benefits, such as extended life expectancy and symptomatic relief.

HIPEC Surgery

HIPEC surgery is a procedure to remove peritoneal mesothelioma tumors. HIPEC surgery is also referred to as cytoreductive surgery and debulking.

What Is HIPEC Surgery?

  • HIPEC surgery is the removal of malignant tumors before chemotherapy treatment.
  • It is also referred to as cytoreductive surgery (CRS) or debulking.

Surgeons aim to remove all visible tumors during mesothelioma surgery. However, it’s common for some cancer cells to remain. HIPEC helps target and kill those remaining cells, also helping to prevent recurrence.

HIPEC surgery has its own risks and side effects. Patients may experience bleeding, blood clots and other concerns. It is also common for patients to feel fatigued for months after the surgical procedure.

How Does Heated Chemotherapy Wash Work?

After the tumors are removed, doctors will administer the heated chemotherapy wash to target remaining cancer cells.

Common HIPEC drugs include cisplatin, mitomycin and doxorubicin. Less common HIPEC drugs include oxaliplatin, carboplatin and irinotecan.

To administer HIPEC, doctors will insert two catheters (small tubes) into the patient’s abdomen. The catheters are often referred to as in-flow and out-flow tubes. One tube will pump the heated chemotherapy solution into the body. The other tube will circulate the fluid back to the HIPEC machine (perfusion system), which heats the fluid.

How HIPEC Works

Administering HIPEC only targets cancerous cells because:

  • Healthy cells die at 111.2° F.
  • The chemotherapy will be heated to a temperature between 104°F and 109°F.
  • Optimal temperature is high enough to kill cancer cells but low enough to protect healthy cells.

Doctors may change the patient’s position or massage the abdomen during the procedure. This is to ensure the chemotherapy drugs reach all areas within the abdominal cavity. Once the HIPEC wash is finished, physicians will rinse the abdominal cavity with a saline solution. They will then close the incisions.

The chemotherapy wash is typically circulated in the abdomen for at least 90 minutes. Combined with surgery, the entire process takes 8 – 14 hours, on average.

How Long Is Recovery After HIPEC?

The HIPEC procedure is not yet standardized, so timing may vary. Patients will typically spend 10 – 12 days in the hospital after the procedure for monitoring. HIPEC patients may experience fatigue for 2 – 3 months after their procedure. During this time, patients are advised to rest but also remain as active as possible to avoid blood clots and other complications.

A patient’s recovery from HIPEC and surgery typically involves:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Remaining active when possible
  • Monitoring for any abnormal side effects
  • Taking any prescribed medication
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Attending follow-up appointments

Follow-up appointments will likely consist of blood tests and imaging scans. These appointments will continue for as long as the patient’s doctor deems necessary.

03. Benefits of HIPEC

How Does HIPEC Benefit Mesothelioma Patients?

Studies suggest heated chemotherapy may be more effective in killing mesothelioma cancer cells than traditional chemotherapy. HIPEC has been able to extend the life expectancies of many peritoneal mesothelioma patients. HIPEC treatment can also relieve a patient’s symptoms.

Benefits of HIPEC for Treating Mesothelioma
  • Allows for highly concentrated chemotherapy application
  • Reaches cancer cells on the organ surfaces that systemic chemotherapy may not
  • Often results in less side effects than intravenous chemotherapy
  • Can extend life expectancy, when combined with surgery
  • May reduce cancer-related symptoms
  • Helps prevent recurrence after surgery to remove mesothelioma tumors

Many HIPEC benefits are due to how the medication is administered. The heated chemotherapy is confined to the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). This allows patients to receive higher concentrations of chemotherapy drugs.

With systemic chemotherapy (intravenous), the drugs enter the bloodstream. As a result, patients receive a lower concentration of medication. This prevents the chemotherapy drug from harming too many healthy cells throughout the body. Patients may also experience worse side effects with systemic chemotherapy.

04. HIPEC Side Effects

Side Effects of HIPEC for Mesothelioma

There are several potential side effects associated with HIPEC and surgery for mesothelioma, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Digestive issues
  • Abscess
  • Severe bleeding
  • Wound will not heal (dehiscence)
  • Fistula formation (abnormal connection between two body parts or tissues)
  • Tissue perforation (a hole)

Most of these side effects are associated with HIPEC surgery. These are also potential side effects and not applicable to all patients. A recent study noted that HIPEC surgery has a lower complication rate than other procedures.

Patients should discuss potential complications with their mesothelioma specialist. Some individuals, such as elderly patients and those in poor overall health, may be more susceptible to treatment side effects.

05. HIPEC Success Rates

How Successful Is HIPEC for Treating Mesothelioma?

The average life expectancy for peritoneal mesothelioma is 31 months. However, life expectancies have greatly improved with HIPEC treatment. Some studies show 45% of patients survive 10 years or longer when treated with HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery.

Additional studies have found similar success with HIPEC and surgery for mesothelioma. Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, Dr. Edward Levine and other renowned peritoneal mesothelioma doctors studied HIPEC and mesothelioma.

They analyzed 294 patients diagnosed with diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Each patient underwent HIPEC and surgery. The HIPEC regimen used was a combination of cisplatin and doxorubicin, common chemotherapy drugs. HIPEC survival rates from this study included:

  • Median overall survival of 67 months
  • 1-year survival rate of 83%
  • 3-year survival rate of 62%
  • 5-year survival rate of 52%

A study from the Washington Cancer Institute looked at 161 peritoneal mesothelioma patients. All 161 patients underwent the first round of HIPEC and surgery. Only 44 patients underwent a second round of HIPEC and surgery. Researchers found:

  • A median survival of 77 months after the first round of surgery for all 161 patients
  • A median survival of 54 months after the second surgery for the 44 patients that underwent an additional round

Can HIPEC Cure Mesothelioma Cancer?

HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery cannot cure peritoneal mesothelioma. However, the treatment combination may improve patient survival. HIPEC surgery may be the most effective method of improving survival for some patients.

Can HIPEC Be Used Palliatively?

In some cases, HIPEC and surgery may be used palliatively. Specialists may use this approach when they cannot remove all of a patient’s cancer. In these cases, they remove as much of the cancer as possible to offer relief from mesothelioma symptoms.


06. HIPEC Eligibility

Who Is Eligible for HIPEC Treatment?

Patients should discuss HIPEC eligibility with a specialist. Chemotherapy combined with surgery is considered a multimodal treatment. Multimodal treatment is considered more aggressive, which can impact eligibility.

One of the main requirements for patients to be eligible for HIPEC and surgery is good overall health and physical strength. However, physicians may take other individual factors into consideration.

Patients should always consult with a specialist to determine eligibility. There may be exceptions or additional conditions that apply to a patient’s case. If ineligible, patients may be able to undergo other mesothelioma treatments to improve their prognosis.

How Much Does HIPEC Cost?

If eligible, patients may pay anywhere from $20,000 – $100,000 for HIPEC and cytoreductive surgery treatment. One recent study indicated an average HIPEC procedure cost of around $80,000 per patient.

Is HIPEC Covered by Insurance?

HIPEC with surgery is commonly covered by insurance. However, patients should discuss coverage with their insurance company.

07. Related Therapies

Other Related Therapies

There are other therapies similar to HIPEC. Some studies have looked at the combination of HIPEC with such alternatives.

These therapies differ by chemotherapy temperature, length of application and types of cancer they can treat.

  • Specialists circulate chemotherapy throughout the body cavity affected by cancer.
  • Doctors administer EPIC while the patient is recovering from surgery.
  • Chemotherapy medication stays within the patient’s body for several days. This exposes the cancer cells to the drug for longer.
  • Specialists circulate a room-temperature chemotherapy drug(s) throughout the abdominal cavity.
  • Doctors administer NIPEC after surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma.
  • NIPEC is typically done in a long-term course of treatment (NIPEC-LT).
  • Specialists circulate heated chemotherapy throughout the thoracic cavity.
  • Doctors administer HITHOC as soon as possible after surgery.
  • HITHOC is a palliative option for pleural mesothelioma.
  • Researchers are also testing HITHOC for lung cancer and breast cancer.

Mesothelioma clinical trials continue to test HIPEC combined with other types of chemotherapy. One study by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker and other researchers studied 5-year mesothelioma survival rates in patients treated with surgery and different chemotherapy combinations. This includes HIPEC, EPIC and NIPEC.

Published results of this study include:

  • A 5-year survival rate of 44% for CRS combined with HIPEC
  • A 5-year survival rate of 52% for CRS combined with HIPEC and EPIC
  • A 5-year survival rate of 75% for CRS combined with HIPEC, EPIC and NIPEC

EPIC and NIPEC are newer chemotherapy treatment options. More research is needed to study their effectiveness in treating mesothelioma and other cancers.

08. Where to Find HIPEC

Where Can I Find HIPEC Treatment for Mesothelioma?

There are cancer centers and doctors in the United States that offer HIPEC for mesothelioma. Although many hospitals offer mesothelioma treatment, not all of them specialize in HIPEC.

Washington Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital Center is considered one of the best medical centers for HIPEC treatment. Below is a list of other treatment centers that offer HIPEC.

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center

Sun City, AZ 85351

Banner University Medical Center Phoenix

Banner University Medical Center Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ 85006

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Los Angeles, CA 90048

City of Hope

City of Hope

Duarte, CA 91010

Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center

Tampa, FL 33612

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Chicago

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Chicago

Zion, IL 60099

Edward Cancer Center – Naperville

Edward Cancer Center – Naperville

Naperville, IL 60540

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Boston, MA 02115

Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Detroit, MI 48201

Billings Clinic Cancer Center

Billings Clinic Cancer Center

Billings, MT 59101

Mount Sinai Medical Center

Mount Sinai Medical Center

New York, NY 10029

NY-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

NY-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

New York, NY 10032

Fox Chase Cancer Center

Fox Chase Cancer Center

Philadelphia, PA 19111

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Pittsburgh, PA 15232

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, TX 77030

Washington Cancer Institute

Washington Cancer Institute

Washington, DC 20010

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Look for a treatment center near you to determine if HIPEC is offered.

Some doctors specialize in peritoneal mesothelioma treatment. Various peritoneal mesothelioma specialists have researched HIPEC and have experience performing the procedure.

Some of the best HIPEC surgeons have published hundreds of articles on HIPEC and mesothelioma patients. For example, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker has published more than 600 related articles. Below is a list of other HIPEC doctors.

Photo of Nabil Wasif, M.D.

Nabil Wasif, M.D.

Vice Chair of Education, Department of Surgery
Phoenix, AZ

Photo of Joel M. Baumgartner, M.D.

Joel M. Baumgartner, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
La Jolla, CA

Photo of W. Charles Conway, II, M.D.

W. Charles Conway, II, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
Santa Barbara, CA

Photo of Steven Ahrendt, M.D.

Steven Ahrendt, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist and Director of the Cytoreductive Surgery/HIPEC Program
Aurora, CO

Photo of Ali Ahmad, M.D.

Ali Ahmad, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
Wichita, KS

Photo of Jason M. Foster, M.D.

Jason M. Foster, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
Omaha, NE

Photo of Brian W. Loggie, M.D.

Brian W. Loggie, M.D.

Chief of Division of Surgical Oncology & Director of the Cancer Center at Creighton...
Omaha, NE

Photo of Umut Sarpel, M.D.

Umut Sarpel, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
New York, NY

Photo of Edward A. Levine, M.D.

Edward A. Levine, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
Winston-Salem, NC

Photo of David Bartlett, M.D.

David Bartlett, M.D.

Chair of AHN Cancer Institute
Erie, PA

Photo of Dr. Giorgos C. Karakousis, M.D.

Dr. Giorgos C. Karakousis, M.D.

Surgical Oncologist
Philadelphia, PA

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Look for a doctor near you to determine if HIPEC is offered.

As studies continue to show success with HIPEC, it may become more widely available to patients.