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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Massey now offering HIPEC for advanced abdominal cancers

Leopoldo Fernandez, M.D., and his surgical team demonstrate HIPEC in VCU Health School of Medicine's Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety

VCU Massey Cancer Center recently became the only cancer care provider in Richmond and one of only a handful in the state to offer heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a complex procedure used to treat advanced abdominal cancers.

“HIPEC is typically reserved for patients with advanced colorectal cancers, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other abdominal cancers,” says Leopoldo Fernandez, M.D., a surgical oncologist at Massey specializing in HIPEC. “Previously, patients who could have benefited from HIPEC would had to travel several hours for their care. I’m hopeful that our program will increase access to this specialized procedure and ease some of the travel and recovery burden for patients and families in our region.”

During HIPEC, doctors perform cytoreduction surgery to remove all visible tumors. A heated chemotherapy solution is then circulated throughout the abdominal cavity to kill remaining cancer cells. Evidence has shown that HIPEC is an effective treatment for several types of abdominal cancers, with studies showing a clear benefit for certain patients. Watch the video below to see Fernandez and the HIPEC care team explain the procedure and what patients can expect: 


Fernandez is part of a multidisciplinary team of experts in gastrointestinal cancer research and care who review each patient’s case and come up with a recommended care plan. The team includes surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, endoscopists, pathologists, nutritionists, genetic counselors, clinical research nurses, social workers and more. Together, they support the patient through treatment and also help them manage side effects from treatment and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. 

 “We understand that our patients and caregivers are under significant stress, so we try to coordinate care as efficiently as possible,” says Fernandez. “Appointments are scheduled within one week of referral, and we have a dedicated nurse navigator who helps guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”

More information about Massey’s HIPEC program can be found on Massey’s website. For appointments, referrals and other questions, please call (804) 827-7262 or email

Written by: John Wallace

Posted on: June 2, 2017

Category: Clinical news

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