More Cancer Patients Try Risky 'Hot Chemo Bath'

But doctors unsure treatment merits its invasiveness
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 12, 2011 2:30 PM CDT
A procedure known as a hot chemo bath is becoming more popular, but it remains controversial.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A combination of surgery and heated chemotherapy is rising in popularity—even though patients compare it “to being filleted, disemboweled and then bathed in hot poison,” writes Andrew Pollack in the New York Times. The surgery plus heated chemo, or Hipec, involves cutting the patient open, probing the body for tumors, then running hot chemotherapy over the affected area. It can take hours—and many experts aren’t sure it’s worth it.

“We’re practicing this technique that has almost no basis in science,” says one doctor. Though it was first used largely for rare appendix cancers, it’s being used more and more for ovarian and colorectal cancers. That could be because “you can’t make a living doing this procedure in appendix cancer patients,” says another doctor. But in a 10-year-old study, patients receiving the surgery and Hipec lived almost twice as long as those on intravenous chemo. Still, 8% died from the procedure itself. Click through for a compelling—but graphic—description.

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