HIPEC treatments usually occur after aggressive surgical removal of all visible abdominal tumors. During HIPEC therapy, specially trained surgeons, oncologists and perfusionists deliver a heated chemotherapy agent directly into a patient's abdominal (peritoneal) cavity via catheter. The goal of HIPEC is to eradicate any small tumor deposits that cannot be seen or safely removed by the surgeon. In addition to eradicating tumors through direct exposure to the chemotherapy agent, HIPEC causes in heat-induced changes in the blood flow to tumor cells compared to normal cells.
Because HIPEC is not administered directly into the abdomen, it is not absorbed into the blood stream and has fewer affects on the rest of the body. Physicians may administer additional medications to further minimize the effects of any absorbed chemotherapy.