Mercy’s Dr. Armando Sardi Discusses Diagnosis and Treatment for Appendix Cancer
It's the type of cancer that took the life of iconic actress Audrey Hepburn, but not a lot of people know about cancer of the appendix and it's often misdiagnosed. But there is now a surgery with a very high success rate.
Pam Phillips knew something was terribly wrong back in 2004. After years of misdiagnosis, even appendix surgery, she came to surgical oncologist Dr. Armando Sardi, Director of The Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy. He determined her abdominal pain and discomfort were due to a form of appendiceal cancer.
The cancer is called pseudomyxoma peritonei, or PMP for short.
It's a very rare cancer with very common symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Bowel problems
- Pain in the lower right abdomen
The symptoms are often dismissed.
"We need to get the word out to primary doctors so they can diagnose early, so you won't go years with this growing in your abdomen," Phillips said.
"Here is the colon with the appendix that has a tumor … this is like jelly that comes out of the appendix and seeds throughout the abdomen," Dr. Sardi said.
According to Dr. Sardi, the good news is the once-deadly cancer is now very curable -- it has just .5 percent mortality rate. It's thanks to a treatment that includes an intense form of chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells throughout the abdomen, and greatly reduces the chance of recurrence.
"The treatment is called HIPEC. Really what it consists of is going in and removing all the tumor first. That's the most important thing to do. It takes between 8 and 12 hours. Then you give 90 minutes of heated chemotherapy," Dr. Sardi said.
Phillips is now doing very well. And after witnessing her mother suffer for years, have surgery and recover, Phillips' daughter, Mandi, now works at Mercy Medical Center. She helps guide other patients with appendiceal cancer through the same journey.
View Dr. Sardi’s interview regarding appendix cancer and the HIPEC treatment.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.