A new type of heated, super-concentrated chemotherapy treatment is giving patients with cancers in the abdominal area new hope. The cutting-edge treatment was featured on an episode of ABC’s The Good Doctor on November 12, 2018, but for patients like Tauna Langridge, the treatment is more than just a TV fantasy.
At 49, Tauna had grown a basketball-sized tumor that made her look pregnant. She thought it was benign, but after surgery to have it removed, doctors told her that the tumor was cancerous and she’d need additional surgeries. Despite additional procedures, her appendix cancer returned within a year. She would need more aggressive treatment to keep the cancer away permanently.
That’s when she learned about HIPEC, or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. The procedure involves a mulit-part surgery in which diseased organs are removed, and then super-heated, concentrated chemotherapy drugs are pumped into and out of the abdominal cavity while the patient is still on the operating table. It’s 90 minutes of chemotherapy with the drug heated to about 105 degrees.
Because the abdominal cavity protects the rest of the body from the intense chemotherapy, HIPEC allows a patient to endure a much higher dose than other chemotherapy treatments.
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The chemo dose, at 90 minutes, is short, but the recovery period is long. Because the abdominal cavity protects the rest of the body from the chemo drugs, it’s only appropriate for those with cancers that occur in the abdominal area: colorectal, appendiceal, stomach, primary periotoneal, and pseudomyxoma peritoneii. It may also be an option for those with ovarian cancer.
Tauna had to have her cervix, ovaries, uterus, spleen, part of her diaphragm, part of her liver, gall blader, colon, part of her bowel, omentum, part of her pancreas, and her appendix removed during two different surgeries to free her body of cancer. She had a heart attack during one procedure and had to be revived after she flatlined. But the huge cost as been worth it.
“I’ve made it four years, going on four years since that last surgery and I’m feeling good,” she told Komo News, “It’s bought me years of living life.”