Sylvester First in South Florida to Offer Novel Abdominal Cancer Treatment

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is the first in South Florida to offer a novel therapy for certain types of abdominal cancers that combines heated chemotherapy with surgery. The procedure is performed at the time of surgery and has extended the lives and improved the quality of life for patients who might otherwise have limited treatment options.

Mecker G. Möller, M.D., a surgical oncologist in the Division of Surgical Oncology at the Miller School, was the first to perform a hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC) on a patient at University of Miami Hospital. Part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System, Sylvester is one of only four centers in the state to offer the treatment.

HIPEC is used to treat patients with cancer that has spread to the abdominal cavity, usually from the peritoneal lining, colon, appendix, gastrointestinal tract or ovaries. It is considered standard treatment for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, mucynous carcinoma of the appendix and pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare malignant disorder characterized by the accumulation of mucus-secreting tumor cells in the abdominal region.

The HIPEC procedure is performed immediately following surgery to reduce the number of tumor cells. Once the surgeon has removed the tumor or tumor implants, a sterile solution containing chemotherapeutic agents heated to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (42° C) is perfused and recirculated throughout the abdominal cavity for two hours using a system called the ThermoChem HT. ThermoChem delivers the heated chemotherapy directly to the abdominal cavity at a very targeted and precise rate.

Five-year data shows patients undergoing this treatment live longer and have a better quality of life. This type of cancer often results in the accumulation of fluid-producing cells that can create large volumes of fluid in the abdomen, making eating, moving and lying down very uncomfortable. HIPEC has been shown to be effective at destroying these cells, creating less discomfort for patients.

“Clinical studies show HIPEC to be significantly more effective than surgery or chemotherapy alone, so we are able to offer these patients an improved prognosis and quality of life,” said Möller, who performed this procedure elsewhere and is now bringing it to University of Miami Hospital. “We are excited to be able to offer this cutting-edge technology for patients with advanced abdominal cancer.”

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