Many cancer centers, including Memorial, are adding new antibodies Avastin and AMG-479 to treatments to slow the cancer’s growth. Both antibodies are in clinical trials.
With HIPEC, the abdomen is slit open to expose the peritoneal cavity and remove all visual tumors on the ovaries and other organs. Outflow and inflow catheters are inserted and then connected to a pumping machine. The abdomen is then stitched closed to allow intense chemotherapy fluid, heated to about 107 degrees, to circulate through the abdomen.
The abdomen is massaged and shaken to ensure chemo distribution to all surfaces and organs. After 90 minutes, the incision is reopened, the fluid is drained and the abdomen washed with saline.
The procedure takes from five to 12 hours.
Davila didn’t see it coming.
Ovarian cancer is one of the least detectible cancers because vague symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal swelling or discomfort, trouble eating or frequent urination, can indicate common ailments that soon pass. A visit to the gynecologist is urged when symptoms persist for two or more weeks.
“Let me tell you — I had no appetite, my energy was low and my stomach was a little upset but I never thought it was cancer. I didn’t even go to the gynecologist — I went to the proctologist thinking a hemorrhoid had flared up,” Davila said.
An exploratory CT scan discovered tumors and Davila was scheduled for surgery the same day. She had Stage 3 ovarian cancer that had spread to her abdomen.
“HIPEC is not the first choice for fighting ovarian cancer. Going to your gynecologist annually and catching it in the first stage is much better,” Davila said.