Dr Mehrdad Bohlooli, a surgeon and a member of the board of directors of Jam Hospital in Tehran, has launched a rarest method for advanced cancer treatment since 2015 in Iran.
He is a pioneer in the implementation of hyperthermic intra-peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) method in Iran.
Dr Bohlooli explains about this type of surgery: A particular type of cancer that occurs inside the abdominal cavity, such as the stomach, ovary, colon and appendix, where old methods of treatment such as surgery and chemotherapy are no longer effective. The patient’s life expectancy was 3 or 4 months, and doctors hoped for such patients to be relieved by the time the patients died. These patients are reassigned through HIPEC surgery.
What is HIPEC?
HIPEC is a cancer treatment that involves filling the abdominal cavity with chemotherapy drugs that have been heated. Also known as “hot chemotherapy,” HIPEC is performed after the surgeon removes tumours or lesions from the abdominal area.
HIPEC is for those cancer patients who are no longer responsive to chemotherapy, and physicians usually find continuing treatment useless. The patient has no more than one to six months to live. However, with the HIPEC method, the whole thing changes.
Surgeons have been able to cure cancer and give it life again to end-stage patients.
Since HIPEC was invented, Professor Paul Sugarbaker has been working to improve the treatment. He has been extending the patient’s life expectancy by experimenting with different drugs and protocols. Over time, his protocol has extended into a long-term treatment plan including three steps of chemotherapy treatments.
Professor Pual Sugarbaker has been doing research in Washington since the 1960s. He unveiled this method at the first congress held in 1998. At that time, only 8 people attended the congress. As the effectiveness of this style of surgery unfolded, the presence of physicians became increasingly evident, with 750 people from all over the world attending last year’s HIPEC Congress in Paris.
Dr Bohlooli explained the method in more details for advanced cancer treatment: the patient undergoes 8 hours of surgery in HIPEC. During this procedure surgeon first cleans all tumours inside the abdomen, and then with the HIPEC, chemotherapy at 43 ▲ C for 90 minutes. This process completely destroys the remaining cancer cells.
According to Dr Bohlooli, The difficulty is so great that 12 surgeons and medical staffs are directly and 35 indirectly involved in the surgical procedure, but with very serious complications for the patient.
Having learned the necessary skills for this type of surgery with the founder of HIPEC, Professor Sugarbaker, he finds this method unique as well. “I had to endure a lot to learn this style of therapy. I used to go every time HIPEC surgery was done in other countries. On occasion, I made a lot of trips o to find out the details and sensitivities of this surgery in the country’s hospitals.” Dr Bohlooli added.
There are 95 HIPEC-equipped centres around the world, with only 9 medical centres being approved by official HIPEC Forum.
Fortunately, two official active centres in Iran, the Faghihi Hospital in Shiraz and the Jam Hospital in the capital, are both on the official list.
According to the calculations, Iran needs 20 HIPEC equipped centres, which is currently active only in Tehran and Shiraz. While worldwide, every facility is equipped with only one device, the demand is so great in Iran that at Jam Hospital there are 4 active HIPEC devices at a time, which is a significant threshold.
Asked what the results and success rates of the HIPEC operation are, he added: “Over the past four years we have started this treatment, about 450 patients have been treated with less than 3% deaths and all They are living.
However, all of these patients had a life expectancy of 3 or a maximum of 4 months.
It can be said that the majority of patients recover completely and some increase their lifespan.
Dr Bohlooli explained Iran’s capacity in this field to attract international patients: Currently, we have applicants from European countries, especially Finland, Italy and Slovenia for HIPEC operation. Because both the quality of treatment is very high and it is cost-effective. In the United States, HIPEC costs $ 700,000, in Europe $ 120,000, in Turkey $ 55,000, and in Iran $ 16,000. Currently