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Regional Perfusion Therapy for Metastases

Metastases are cancers that have spread to another part of your body.

Doctors call metastases secondary cancers: They're the same type of cancer as the primary tumor, but they're in a new location.

Metastatic cancer is difficult to treat, as it's often too large and spread out for surgeons to remove it. It's also more resistant to regular chemotherapy.

If metastases are in a single organ or part of your body, regional perfusion therapy may be a treatment option.

Regional perfusion therapy targets the specific site of your cancer. It bathes the cancer cells in very high doses of chemo drugs, reducing the chance that your metastases will spread further.

Types of Metastases We Treat With Regional Perfusion Therapy

Many types of metastases respond well to regional perfusion therapy.

Pseudomyxoma peritonei or adenomucinosis is cancer that forms in the cells lining the appendix. Appendix cancers are rare, with only one to two cases per million people. Regional perfusion therapy may be an option for this cancer.

Colorectal cancer is cancer that forms in the colon or rectum. It's the fourth most common type of cancer in adults.

Colorectal cancer often spreads to the liver. If it's contained, doctors often treat it with regional perfusion.

Mesothelioma is cancer that forms in the peritoneum, the thin tissue that lines the abdominal cavity. It can also affect the lining of the chest wall and lungs.

The peritoneum has a large surface area with many folds, which makes it easy for cancer cells to settle and spread.

Asbestos exposure causes up to eight in 10 cases of mesothelioma.

This type of cancer can be hard to treat. It often doesn't respond to classic chemo. Since it's usually confined to the abdominal cavity or pleural cavity, it may be a candidate for regional perfusion therapy.

Peritoneal sarcomatosis refers to cancer of bone, cartilage, or soft tissues (like muscle or connective tissue) that may have spread to the abdominal cavity.

Your pleural cavity is the fluid-filled space between your lungs and chest. It's sometimes the primary site of a cancer tumor. More commonly, cancers in the pleural cavity start in the lungs or another part of your body.

Pleural cavity tumors are usually cancerous and regional perfusion may be a treatment option.

These are tumors that begin in the ovaries or peritoneal lining. Peritoneal serous adenocarcinoma is uncommon. In fact, it's more rare than ovarian cancer. If the tumors have spread but remain in the peritoneum, regional perfusion may be a treatment option.

Regional Perfusion Treatments for Metastases

Classic chemotherapy may effectively treat early-stage cancers, but it's less effective at treating cancers that have spread.

Regional perfusion therapies are often more successful in treating metastases. They cannot cure cancer, but they can prevent your cancer from spreading further. As a result, they can lengthen and improve the quality of your life.

There are many different types of perfusion therapies, depending on the type and location of your cancer. Here are some of the treatments for metastases we offer at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

HIPEC treats cancers that have spread to your stomach or peritoneum, like mesothelioma. It uses a combination of cytoreductive surgery and heated chemo medicine to treat metastatic cancer in the abdominal cavity.

Before HIPEC, surgeons remove as much of the tumor as possible. Depending on the extent of your metastases, they may also perform a peritonectomy. This surgery removes the tissue that lines the abdominal cavity.

After your surgery, the doctors insert two tubes into your stomach. One tube brings warmed chemo medicine to the tumor, while the other removes the liquid and reheats it. This medicine circulates for about 90 to 100 minutes to kill the cancer cells.

Finally, your surgeon will close your incisions and send you to the recovery room. You'll stay in the hospital for 10 to 14 days.

HITHOC treats metastases in your chest cavity, such as pleural tumors.

This treatment is very similar to HIPEC. The difference is that the medication circulates throughout your chest cavity, rather than your abdominal cavity.

Recovery time in the hospital is usually at least a week.

IHP treats metastatic cancers that have spread to the liver.

During this treatment, a surgeon opens your abdomen and exposes your liver. Next, they separate the incoming and outgoing blood supply to the liver from the rest of your circulatory system.

The surgeon then delivers a very strong chemo solution to the site. This medicine circulates through your liver for about an hour to kill the cancer cells. Because it's contained to your liver, healthy tissue throughout your body is unharmed.

Recovery from this surgery requires at least a 10-day stay in the hospital.

Make an Appointment for Metastatic Cancer Care

The cancer care team at UPMC has nearly 20 years of experience with a wide range of regional perfusion therapies. We're leading clinical trials with therapies for rare and aggressive cancers that often don't respond to other treatments. We also team up with other specialists to offer treatment options tailored to your individual needs and goals.

To learn more about the regional perfusion therapy treatments we offer, contact the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center, or call UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-692-2852.