Alternative Gynecologic Treatment Offers Hope for Women with Recurring Cancers

Walnut Creek, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2015) – The Gynecologic Oncology Program at John Muir Health is offering state-of-the-art technology and treatment options for women with some recurring gynecologic cancers and gastrointestinal cancers, including ovarian, colon, appendiceal and mesothelioma.

The procedure, known as HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy), is performed on patients if their disease is limited to the abdominal cavity. The Gynecologic Oncology surgeons at John Muir Health began performing HIPEC in late 2010 and have successfully completed the procedure on more than two dozen patients.

"We're proud to be one of a few medical centers in Northern and Central California to offer HIPEC as an option to a select group of patients," said Babak Edraki, M.D., medical director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program. John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Top 20 hospitals in the United States for gynecology services, which includes gynecologic cancer care.

The two-part HIPEC treatment begins in the operating room with the removal of as much of the cancerous tumor or tumors as possible. Directly following the tumor removal, a tumor-specific chemotherapy agent is heated and circulated throughout the abdominal cavity for 90 minutes at a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit to directly target any remaining, undetected cancer cells.

"HIPEC provides an advanced treatment option for patients who may otherwise have limited options when facing a recurring cancer in the abdominal area, which can be difficult to treat," said Dr. Edraki. "The proven track record of this combination therapy slows the spread of the disease and helps extend patients' lives."

The major clinical and patient benefits of HIPEC include:

  • No or limited chemotherapy side effects due to the single dose administered rather than multiple rounds of chemotherapy
  • Minimal exposure to the rest of the body of the chemotherapy treatment
  • The regional dose intensity of the chemotherapy agent and its match to a patient's specific tumor, which increases its effectiveness
  • Heat increases the drug's penetration into the tissue in the abdominal cavity
  • Heat increases how toxic the chemotherapy is to the cancer cells

"For many patients, a recurrence of cancer can seem hopeless. Having been through surgery, chemotherapy and sometimes radiation, each with side effects, the return of cancer after a period of remission can be devastating" says Carolyn Berson, RN, MSN, nurse navigator for Gynecologic Oncology Services at John Muir Health. "This progressive treatment brings new hope."

For more information on John Muir Health's gynecologic cancer services, please visit

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