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Ground-breaking aerosol chemotherapy offers targeted approach and reduced side effects

A ground-breaking treatment from Germany, Pressurised Intraperitoneal Aerosol Chemotherapy (PIPAC), is being trialled with bowel and stomach cancer patients at Epworth HealthCare.

Participants in the trial receive three rounds of aerosol chemotherapy, administered during keyhole surgery at six-week intervals. The aerosol is administered directly onto the tumour at high speed and ‘soaks’ into the tumour nodule.

‘The treatment is sprayed directly onto the tumour site instead of injecting it into the patient’s bloodstream like a conventional course of chemotherapy,’ explained Associate Professor Craig Lynch, General Surgeon (Gastroenterology) at Epworth HealthCare. ‘This delivery method reduces the nasty side effects associated with conventional therapies, which attack healthy cells in the body in addition to cancer cells.’

‘Each time we examine the tumour after therapy, we can see it is shrinking, and we observe scarring on the tumour. It’s wonderful to see this treatment take effect on patients whose options would otherwise be limited to palliative care,’ said Associate Professor Lynch.

It is anticipated that the aerosol treatment could also be used preoperatively to shrink tumours, which could reduce the impact of surgery on patients. The possibilities of this treatment to both reduce side effects and extend the lives of people with cancer are highly promising.

PIPAC was first trialled in Europe in 2011 and is currently being trialled at four sites in Australia across Victoria and News South Wales. Internationally, the treatment has been used on other cancers, including ovarian cancer, and it has potential to be used on a wider number of cancers in Australia.

The PIPAC trial at Epworth HealthCare is funded by the Epworth Medical Foundation and involves patients whose cancers have not responded to chemotherapy.

Ground-breaking aerosol chemotherapy offers targeted approach and reduced side effects