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Intraperitoneal (IP) therapy is a treatment for cancer in the abdomen (belly). Chemotherapy (chemo) is put directly into the abdomen. Chemo is medication to kill cancer cells. IP therapy is often done with other treatments. These may include surgery or chemo given through a vein.
Chemo is dripped through a tube into the peritoneal space. This is the space between the muscles and organs in the abdomen. The chemo stays inside the space for a few days. It comes into contact with the tissues inside your abdomen. This lets the chemo directly affect the cancer cells. This kills cancer cells in the abdomen and helps shrink tumors there.
Before receiving IP therapy, a peritoneal port needs to be placed. This is a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. One end of the catheter is in the peritoneal space. The other end of the catheter is attached to a wider piece of tube that stays outside the body. IP therapy is injected through the port. The procedure to put in a port takes about 1-2 hours. It is done 2-14 days before IP treatment is given.
You lie down on a table. An IV line is put into a vein in your arm or hand. This line supplies fluids and medications. A topical anesthetic is put on your port site. A special needle with a tube attached is put into your port. Chemo is dripped through the tube into the port and goes into your abdomen. You may feel some cramping in your abdomen while the chemo is dripped in. You will be asked to move from side to side to make sure the fluid spreads throughout your abdomen. Receiving the chemo can take about 2-4 hours. The chemo stays in your body for a few days, then is slowly absorbed by the body.
Because IP therapy adds fluid to your abdomen, you will have a feeling of pressure and bloating. It may help if you walk around after treatment, or sit upright. Wear comfortable clothing with a stretchy waistband for the next few days. As the fluid is absorbed by your body, you may need to urinate more often. You may also be told to drink a lot of fluids during this process.
Chemo medications are used during this treatment. So the side effects of this treatment are similar to those of chemo. Side effects will depend on the type of chemo given, but can include:
Itchy, dry skin
Changes in skin color
Changes in or loss of nails
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Loss of sexual desire
Your health care provider can tell you more about the side effects you might expect and how to manage them.
Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Redness, swelling, or worsening pain around the port site
Extreme fatigue that doesn’t get better between treatments
Shortness of breath, wheezing, or trouble breathing
Rapid, irregular heartbeat; chest pain
Constant feeling of being cold
A cut or rash that swells, turns red, feels hot or painful, or begins to ooze
Any other signs or symptoms indicated by your doctor
During the course of your treatment, you’ll have routine visits with your doctor. You may also have tests. These allow your doctor to check your health and response to the treatment. After treatment ends, you and your doctor will discuss your treatment results. You’ll also discuss whether you need additional cancer treatments.
Failure to slow growth of or kill cancer cells
Damage to healthy tissue and organs
Your doctor will tell you about other risks that may apply to you.