Published Dec 8, 2021
A newlywed battling appendix cancer has been waiting a month to undergo her scheduled chemo surgery due to a shortage of hospital beds.
Gillian Crawford, 48, scheduled hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) surgery on November 11 with the one surgeon qualified to perform the procedure in Scotland.
On that date, and then again on November 18 and December 2, hospital administrators informed Crawford and her surgeon that a lack of beds made it impossible for the facility to accommodate her for the 10-hour surgery.
The HIPEC surgery is a delicate operation that involves injecting a heated chemo drug into the abdominal cavity and then moving it around until all cancerous cells are removed from the body.
Crawford’s procedure will be lengthy, with the doctor blocking off 10 hours for the procedure.
“I’m so distressed about it. I don’t have the luxury of time,” Crawford told BBC. “My surgeon said he would clear his diary to do it because it was beginning to get into dangerous territory.”
Since time is of the essence, Crawford and her surgeon hope to secure a bed in Manchester.
They are now preparing to make the 250-mile trip in hopes they can find a window to operate next week.
Some Cancer Patients Can Get Chemotherapy Without A Higher Risk Of COVID-19 Infection, Study Shows
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a surgery in which a patient’s abdominal cavity is filled with chemotherapy drugs that have been carefully heated to a temperature slightly higher than the body’s average temperature.
While the drug is injected into the cavity, the patient is placed in a special cooling blanket to ensure the body does not overheat.
This is also accomplished with some manual work from the surgeon and others in the room, who will rock the patient back and forth for hours to ensure the drug reaches every part of the cavity.
If this is done correctly, the drug can kill the cancer cells that remain after surgery, therefore reducing any chance of recurrence.
There are several reasons why individuals prefer HIPEC treatments, such as:
This procedure works best in individuals with soft tissue sarcomas, appendix cancer, Wilms’ tumor, desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSRCT), and other cancers in the abdominal cavity.
The one significant side effect is that patients must eat all food from a feeding tube for two weeks after the surgery.
What Is Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy