Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Our providers were among the first in the area to offer hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a highly specialized treatment for certain abdominal tumors.

Cancer patient with doctor
The doctor shows the pancreas of a person on the blurred background.

What is hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)?

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a specialized treatment for cancerous tumors that start in or have spread to the abdomen. During treatment, a surgeon removes the tumor, then places a dose of heated chemotherapy drug directly into your abdomen. This heated chemotherapy drug can kill cancer cells and lower the risk of the tumors returning.

Why choose UCLA Health for HIPEC treatment?

UCLA Health was one of the first centers in Southern California to begin offering HIPEC surgery, in 2015. Early adoption of this procedure makes us one of the most experienced teams in our region providing HIPEC treatment. You can trust us to provide innovative, effective cancer treatment.

Highlights of our program include:

Established expertise: Our surgical oncologists have years of experience in HIPEC treatment. HIPEC therapy isn’t right for everyone. Our team has the expertise to determine if you’re a good candidate for the treatment, increasing the chances of its effectiveness.    

Coordinated care: We work closely with your referring oncologist throughout your treatment to find the right care plan. Clinic coordinators help schedule appointments quickly and smoothly.  

Leading-edge treatment: As faculty in a major academic center, UCLA Health physicians are active researchers who study the most promising new treatments. We continually offer you leading-edge cancer therapies, often before they’re widely available.

Types of cancer we treat

Our surgical oncologists use HIPEC to treat tumors that have spread within your abdomen but aren’t expected to spread to other organs. We utilize HIPEC to treat only low-grade tumors (ones that grow and spread slowly).

HIPEC may be a treatment for:

Appendix cancer with carcinomatosis: Cancer that starts in the small pouch on the right side of your low belly (appendix) and spreads to the rest of the abdomen

Colon or rectal cancer with carcinomatosis: Cancer that starts in the longest part of your large intestine (colon) or the end of your large intestine (rectum) and spreads to your abdomen

Mucinous tumors of the appendix: A tumor in your appendix that starts forming in mucin, the main component of mucus  

Ovarian cancer with carcinomatosis: Cancer that starts in the female glands that produce eggs (ovaries) and spreads to the abdomen

Peritoneal mesothelioma: Cancer that starts in the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdomen and other organs, such as the liver and lungs

Primary peritoneal carcinoma: Cancer that starts in the peritoneum, a thin tissue that covers the entire abdominal cavity and its organs

What to expect during HIPEC surgery

Before treatment, your surgical oncologist performs a comprehensive evaluation to determine if HIPEC is right for you. They take a full medical history, review your images and laboratory tests, and request new tests if needed. They work closely with your referring oncologist to choose the treatment they believe will be most effective for you.

Each HIPEC procedure varies slightly, depending on the size and location of the tumor. In general, your surgeon:

  1. Removes the entire tumor and any diseased tissue or abdominal organs affected by the tumor. They may operate through one long incision (open approach) or through tiny incisions using special tools and a camera (laparoscopic approach)  
  2. Places small, hollow tubes (catheters) containing chemotherapy drugs into your abdomen
  3. Connects the catheters to a perfusion machine that heats the medications
  4. Allows the heated chemotherapy drugs to circulate in your abdomen for one to two hours
  5. Removes the catheters and rinses your abdomen with a salt solution
  6. Closes the incisions

Benefits of HIPEC

HIPEC provides another effective treatment option that offers good long-term outcomes for people with advanced cancer. The combination of heat and chemotherapy used in HIPEC kills cancer cells and prevents tumor regrowth.

During HIPEC, chemotherapy medications don’t cross into your bloodstream. This allows us to use a higher dose of medication than we can with intravenous (IV) chemotherapy, with lower risk of side effects.

HIPEC recovery and follow-up

The overall surgery and recovery time depends on how much a tumor has spread and the extent of surgery. You’ll typically stay in the hospital for six to 12 days after HIPEC surgery. Full recovery may take four to eight weeks.

You’ll follow up with your surgeon about two weeks after leaving the hospital. HIPEC surgery is effective for many people, and you may not need intravenous (IV) chemotherapy after treatment. However, you’ll likely need ongoing follow-up with your medical oncologist to monitor whether or not the tumor returns.

Meet our team

Our surgical oncologists are among the most established HIPEC experts in the region. We provide personalized, effective treatment plans to meet your needs.

Contact us

Call 310-319-4080 to request an appointment with a surgical oncologist at UCLA Health.

Find your care

Our surgeons are established experts in the HIPEC procedure. Call 310-319-4080 to learn more about HIPEC treatment at UCLA Health.