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UAB first in Alabama to offer heated chemotherapy program for patients with stage 4 cancers

Written by: Emma Shephard
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

Salila S. Hashmi, M.D.
Salila S. Hashmi, M.D.

For many patients, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis can be crippling. Though stage 4 diagnoses look different based on the type of cancer, across the board, treatment options are generally limited and the road to potential recovery looks daunting.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Surgical Oncology continues to offer more treatment options for patients with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Recently, the division launched the hepatic artery infusion pump program, which offers targeted chemotherapy for patients with colon cancer that has spread to their liver.

The division now offers a heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or HIPEC, program, designed to treat patients with stage 4 appendix, colorectal, peritoneal mesothelioma, peritoneal and gastric cancers and eventually expanding to treat ovarian cancer.

UAB is currently the only hospital in the state of Alabama to offer this treatment, according to The treatment is a two-step surgery performed together. In the first step, surgeons perform a cytoreductive surgery, in which they remove all visible tumor from the patient’s abdomen followed by heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

The CRS is usually done through an incision in the center of the patient’s abdomen. In some patients, this can be done laparoscopically, meaning with the use of a camera and smaller incisions. Though it varies from case to case, the CRS may involve removal of some organs, bowel and/or the lining of the abdomen to remove all of the visible tumor.

Once all of the visible tumor is removed, the surgeons then perform the heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy where chemotherapy heated to 108 degrees Fahrenheit is instilled and flushed into the abdomen, via catheter, for 90 minutes to kill any of the remaining microscopic tumor.

Following the surgery, patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days until they are ready for discharge; this duration varies for every patient. Division of Surgical Oncology clinical instructor Salila S. Hashmi, M.D., and her team are pleased with the procedure.

“HIPEC is a viable option for eligible patients,” Hashmi said. “The surgery allows for a deeper penetration of chemotherapy medication into the abdominal tissues and greater effectiveness at killing cancer cells in the abdomen.”

Director of the Division of Surgical Oncology Vikas Dudeja, MBBS, looks forward to offering this option to future patients.

“Although it can be an intensive surgery, our team of experts is glad to offer this option for our patients who may be good candidates,” Dudeja said. “Patients no longer have to travel outside of the state for this option; we have it right here in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Patients eligible for the HIPEC program and those seeking an opinion regarding a patient may call UAB at 205-934-3028 to make an appointment.

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