Background: Surgical treatment of intra-abdominal cancer is often followed by local recurrence. In a subgroup of patients, local recurrence is the sole site of disease, reflecting biologically low-grade malignancy. These patients might, therefore, benefit from local treatment. Recently, debulking surgery followed by hyperthermic chemoperfusion has been proposed in the treatment of locally advanced or recurrent intra-abdominal cancer. This paper reviews the rationale and assesses the currently accepted indications for and results of this novel treatment.
Methods: A systematic web-based literature review was performed. Information was also retrieved from handbooks, congress abstracts and ongoing clinical trials.
Results: A growing body of experimental evidence supports the use of hyperthermia combined with chemotherapy as an adjunct to cytoreductive surgery. Randomized clinical trials are available to support its use in the treatment and prevention of peritoneal carcinomatosis following resection of pathological tumour stage pT3 or pT4 gastric cancer; several other phase III trials are ongoing. Numerous phase I and II trials have reported good results for various other indications, with acceptable morbidity and mortality rates. Case mix, limited patient numbers and absence of a standardized technique are, however, a drawback in many of these series.
Conclusion: For a subgroup of patients with peritoneal cancer without distant disease, debulking surgery followed by hyperthermic chemoperfusion may offer a chance of cure or palliation in this otherwise untreatable condition. This novel therapy should, however, be considered experimental until further results from ongoing phase III trials become available.