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Department of Surgery

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Cytoreductive Surgery and Heated Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Recent advances in cancer treatments provide Johns Hopkins more effective treatment options for certain late stage gastrointestinal cancers than ever before. A technique called cytoreductive (debulking) surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) has been shown to be an effective treatment option for certain peritoneal surface malignancy cancers such as selected stage IV colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers including appendiceal cancers and pseudomyxoma peritonei. The peritoneal cavity is a space wrapped between two membranes layering the abdominal wall and organs around the abdomen. 

The technique is a two-step process:

  • Surgically removing any visible tumor or cancer, and then
  • Delivering heated chemotherapy drugs to the affected area.

During the second phase of treatment a heated chemotherapy solution is circulated in the abdominal cavity to treat any cancer cells that may remain. The combination of heat and chemotherapy is believed to be more effective than standard chemotherapy treatment for certain patients because it can access and kill more cancer cells than can be found with the naked eye.

Recent studies have shown that cytoreductive surgery followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy is beneficial for certain patients with late-stage gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal cancers. The procedure can potentially extend their life and also improve quality of life for patients with late stage disease. Since the chemotherapy is delivered internally, some of the traditional side effects of oral or intravenous chemotherapy drugs may be avoided.

Quality of care

HIPEC is a novel approach to treating late stage gastrointestinal cancers, but it is also considered a risky procedure.  Before identifying candidates for HIPEC, Johns Hopkins physicians evaluate the patient case rigorously and discuss the risks and benefits with the patient. They will work with your doctors to determine if the heated chemotherapy wash may be an effective treatment for you.


HIPEC: What You Need to Know | Fabian Johnston, M.D.

Surgical oncologist Fabian Johnston discusses cytoreductive surgery plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment that is delivered directly to the abdomen during surgery. Dr. Johnston answers what types of cancer HIPEC is used to treat, who is a good candidate and the treatment benefits.


Meet our specialists

Photo of Dr. Jin He, M.D., Ph.D.

He, Jin, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Surgery
Assistant Professor of Oncology
Photo of Dr. Fabian McCartney Johnston, M.D., M.H.S.

Johnston, Fabian McCartney, M.D., M.H.S.

Associate Professor of Surgery
Associate Professor of Oncology
Co-Director of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program

Contact us

A Johns Hopkins surgeon can determine if cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy is the right treatment option for you or your patient.

For a consultation, call 443-997-1508.