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Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy  

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is a type of chemotherapy treatment in which anti-cancer drugs are administered directly into the abdominal cavity through a catheter which has been placed in the peritoneum.  This type of chemotherapy treatment is generally used on women who have undergone surgical treatment for ovarian cancer and who still have a portion of the tumor remaining.  This type of procedure can be effective since it directly exposes the tumor to higher concentrations of strong anti-cancer medications than what would otherwise be possible through other chemotherapy processes.  We will discuss this process in further detail and review some of the benefits and drawbacks to it. 

Normally chemotherapy works by administering strong anti-cancer drugs to the body.  They are generally administered either orally or intravenously.  The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to the desired cancer sites.  These drugs are designed to attack cells which exhibit rapid growth rates and disrupt this growth which eventually kills them.  Since cancer cells show a higher than normal growth rate, this is usually a very effective way of delivering these drugs directly to the site of the cancer.  However there are some other cells which also show rapid growth rates and can therefore be affected by the drugs as well.  So in addition to killing cancer cells, this treatment can also affect healthy cells. 

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is an alternative way of administering the drugs which can reduce the impact to healthy cells and maximize the dosage to cancer cells.  High concentrations of anti-cancer drugs can be administered directly to the site of the cancer in the abdomen.  And due to the peritoneal-plasma barrier, the high concentrations of anti-cancer drugs do not tend to pass through into the bloodstream.  This minimizes the impact to other healthy cells. 

This type of chemotherapy can be very helpful and effective at destroying cancer cells which either could not be removed or were not identified during surgical procedures.  Although surgical procedures are very commonly used for cancers of this type which have not metastasized to other organs, surgeons cannot remove cancer than they cannot detect.  The surgical procedures are usually most effective for tumors which can be detected by the eye. 

However the cancer can still pose a threat if any cancerous cells remain in the area.  Even a few isolated cancer cells can pose a risk of reoccurrence.  So peritoneal chemotherapy can be a very effective way of bathing the affected areas following surgery with the objective of killing any stray cancer cells. 

This will minimize the risk of reoccurrence and provide better overall results.   

There has been some controversy with this kind of treatment.  While some finding support very favorable long term results others feel that the treatment has the potential to result in higher toxicity from the anti-cancer drugs. 

This can directly affect higher side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, as well as potential damage to heart and kidneys.  So the use of this treatment should be considered carefully and assess as much concrete information as possible.