The unfortunate truth for abdominal cancer patients is that once tumors start to grow on the lining of a cancer patient’s abdomen, there’s little hope of long-term survival. The good news is that could soon change as researchers are ready to put an experimental cancer treatment to the test in a US trial—and if it works as hoped, the treatment could give late-stage abdominal cancer patients a new lease on life.
The experimental cancer treatment is called “pressurized intraperitoneal aerosolized chemotherapy (PIPAC),” and it starts with putting abdominal cancer patients under general anesthesia. Surgeons then make two small incisions in the patient’s abdomen, insert a pair of tubes, and pump air into the abdomen, causing it to inflate like a balloon.
After that, they spray aerosol chemo through the tubes, all over the interior of the inflated abdomen. This coats the tumors without opening up the abdominal cavity, which is invasive and dangerous while using a minimum of the harsh chemicals. The surgeons wait half an hour for the chemotherapy to seep into the patient’s tissue and then vacuum out any excess droplets. This procedure might sound scary, but PIPAC has proven its worth in trials overseas.
For one, it requires only 10-20% of the usual dosage, which makes it more tolerable for patients — they don’t even experience any hair loss, according to Thanh Dellinger, a principal investigator of the new trial at medical research center City of Hope.
The spray is also able to cover the entirety of the abdomen, ensuring the chemo reaches any and all tumors, and it’s far less invasive than tumor-removal surgery, which sometimes isn’t even an option.