Ovarian cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers with devastatingly small survival rates, but a new treatment could revolutionize how doctors treat the disease. Doctors and researchers are turning to a treatment called heated chemotherapy to destroy ovarian tumors. Originally used to treat other types of abdominal cancers, the regimen is showing some success at treating ovarian cancer.
The treatment is called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy or HIPEC. Doctors start by surgically removing ovarian tumors, and then use chemotherapy medications that have been heated to 42 degrees Celsius. The heated solution is directly delivered to the site of the tumors. The heated solution is then allowed to roll around on the lining of the ovaries. The heat from the solution allows for the body to better absorb the chemotherapy drug. Armando Sardi, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, calls the process the “shake and bake.” The goal of the rolling around is to ensure the drugs go “into every nook and cranny so that your chances of reaching those cancerous cells were the best.”
Normal intravenous chemotherapy only circulates the chemotherapy drugs through the bloodstream, making it difficult for the drugs to adequately reach all of the cancerous cells. This direct application of chemotherapy drugs could have profound implications for not only for treating ovarian cancer, but for other types of cancer as well.
Advances in ovarian cancer treatment could not come too soon. This past May, a jury found healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) guilty of failing to warn consumers that the talc in the company’s baby powder products could greatly increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
While J&J continues to stand by the safety of its products, thousands of women across the country believe their use of J&J baby powder for feminine hygiene caused them to develop ovarian cancer and have filed lawsuits against the company.