Washington man is back to normal after HIPEC treatment

When treatment for a tumor in his appendix required major surgery and a special type of chemotherapy treatment known as HIPEC, Dick Gallagher got the expert care he needed from University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

Eighteen months later, Dick, of Washington, Iowa, is back to a normal life.

“I am doing all the activities now that I was doing before surgery,” Dick says, “including hard physical work at times.”

HIPEC expertise for cancer treatment

Dick was diagnosed with appendix problems at his community hospital. Doctors there knew that Dick needed special care, so they sent him to UI Hospitals & Clinics. That’s where Dick met surgical oncologist Carlos Chan, MD, PhD.

Chan specializes in cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy), which together are used as a technique for removing as much of a tumor as possible from the abdominal area, along with any affected organs, and then immediately treating the entire abdominal cavity with chemotherapy during the surgery.

This direct application of the chemo allows for a higher dose that goes directly to the cancer cells instead of being infused through the bloodstream. At the end of the procedure, the chemo is drained before the surgeon closes the incision.

‘I was extremely pleased’

In Dick’s case, that involved a 14-hour procedure in which Chan removed his appendix, spleen, gallbladder, part of his colon, and some of the fatty tissue that covers the intestines.

For a patient, it’s a treatment that requires complete confidence in the surgeon, every step of the way. Dick had that confidence.

“I was extremely impressed with Dr. Chan,” Dick says. “He predicted my recovery would take about six months, and it did. I am now about 18 months post-operation, and I am completely back to normal life.”

Washington, Iowa