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, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.