Dr. Jason Foster talks about innovative chemo treatment

Story contributed by The Nebraska Medical Center | August 13, 2010

UNMC's Jason Foster, M.D., is one of just a few physicians in the country who specialize in an emerging treatment for abdominal cancer called intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy (HIPEC), or "hot chemo."

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Jason Foster, M.D.
What it is

In "hot chemo," an operation is done to remove all visable cancer. Then the organs are bathed in a heated solution of chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells that still remain.

"With this approach, we do the surgery and the chemo all at once," said Dr. Foster, assistant professor of surgical oncology at UNMC. "It complements the IV chemotherapy patients receive and allows us to treat the organ surfaces and inner abdominal walls, which could have been exposed to the cancer."

How it works

After the tumors are removed, surgeons close the abdomen and fill the abdominal cavity with the heated chemo and bathe all the organs with the solution. The cancer-fighting benefit does not just come from the chemo solution.

"Cancer cells do not dissipate heat well and can be killed by heat," Dr. Foster said. "For this to work, we had to find a temperature warm enough to kill the cancer cells, but not too hot to damage the healthy tissue inside the body."

That temperature is about 42 degrees Celsius, or 108 degrees Fahrenheit.

Who it works for

Hot chemo is well-suited to treat:

  • Cancer in the abdominal cavity;
  • Some patients with ovarian and colorectal cancer; and
  • Cancer of the appendix and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Patients who are candidates for hot chemo treatment are:

  • Typically stage four cancer patients who face very steep odds; and
  • In many cases, they have already experienced surgery and chemotherapy.

Quality over quantity

For some people, it has the potential to save a life. In others, it is used to make the remaining months or years more tolerable.

"In some cases, it's a quality of life issue," Dr. Foster said. "For the right person, this can be a viable alternative; improving their quality of life and potentially extending their survival."

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Bonnie Woosley
May 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Dr. Foster is amazing! As a human being and as a Dr. His bedside manner is excellent, very caring. He operated on my cancer in Oct. of 2008. He removed my appendix, female organs and half of my abdominal wall muscle. (Instead of six-pack abs, I have a 3-pack) I was very impressed with Dr. Foster from the minute he said my tumor was Malignate. He truly cares about his patients! Very compassionate! Recommended to everyone!

Penny Albers
April 09, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Dr. Foster took over care of my husband Glen in October of 2007. He was diagnosed with mucinous adenocarcinoma of the appendix, stage 4. We were impressed with Dr. Foster at our very first meeting. He explained about the HIPEC, how it worked, and what to expect in terms we could understand. This procedure along with Dr. Foster's care and expertise saved my husbands life. He has been cancer free and living a normal life since shortly after the procedure. An amazing doctor and an amazing procedure. We have been very blessed.

Janet Chung
October 14, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Dr. Foster is treating my mom who has appendix cancer. She had the hot chemo treatment after surgery three years ago. She has been able to travel overseas to see family. We agree with the Larsens, on a scale of one to ten, he rates at least a twelve, he is the best and we would also recommend him. Thank you Dr. Foster. Janet Chung

Janet Dean-Cole
October 13, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Dr. Foster is currently treating my son Kevin who is a colon cancer survivor. His cancer moved to his liver. They will be using the hot chemo treatment after his surgery on October 26th. Kevin and Erin have had only wonderful things to say about Dr. Foster and his staff. They have all the confidence in the world in him. As a mother is helps put my mind at ease knowing my son is so comfortable with his physician. Thank you Dr. Foster. Janet Dean-Cole (mother of Kevin Dean)

Eric & Rhonda Larsen
August 16, 2010 at 7:52 PM

Eric has been fighting cancer for almost two years. Dr. Foster has been treating him the whole time. We have never met a better, more comforting, educated doctor. We cannot say enough good things about him. On a scale of one to ten...he rates a twelve. He is the best. We would recommend to anyone. I know that I wouldn't haven't Eric today if it wasn't for Dr. Foster. We truely thank him and all of his staff for what they have done for us.

Anjella Wittman
August 13, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Thank you Dr. Foster for your work on this new kind of treatment! It's always great to hear about progress in cancer treatment!