Peritoneal Cancer/HIPEC

The Peritoneal Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic is designed to offer patients a one-stop comprehensive evaluation for a variety of cancers involving the peritoneal or abdominal cavity.

Many cancer types can spread to or originate in the peritoneal cavity, including cancers of the colon, appendix, ovary, and stomach, as well as mesothelioma, neuroendocrine cancer, sarcomas, and other less common tumors. These advanced cancers are challenging to treat and benefit from a multi-specialty approach that considers all possible therapies, including surgery with intraperitoneal chemotherapy, systemic chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and clinical trials.

We bring together a team of experts (surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nutritionists, and more) focused on cancers of the peritoneal cavity. The team analyzes your individual situation and recommends a specific treatment plan for you.

At our clinic, patients are seen by a team of specialists on one day with the goal of having a treatment plan by the end of the visit.

Recent studies have shown improved survival and quality of life in selected patients treated with cytoreductive surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (CRS/HIPEC). As with other complex surgical procedures, surgeon and hospital experience are significant factors in achieving the best patient outcomes. Our surgeons have a combined experience of over 800 CRS/HIPEC procedures.

We are also the only hospital in more than a 500-mile radius where you will find doctors who are part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) advisory panel. The NCCN establishes treatment guidelines that doctors all across the United States of America use as a reference.

The Peritoneal Cancer Center is committed to providing thorough, compassionate, and dedicated patient care.

Certain types of cancer respond well to a combination of therapies known as CRS/HIPEC, or simply HIPEC.

“CRS” stands for “cytoreductive surgery.”

“HIPEC” stands for “heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy.”

Cancers treated by this method include:

  • Mucinous adenocarcinoma of the appendix
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Gastric cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Other gastrointestinal cancers

These types of cancer sometimes spread to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) or other organs, where neither surgery alone nor chemotherapy alone will be effective. CRS/HIPEC is a state-of-the-art, combinative approach to attacking this kind of hard-to-treat cancer.

The first step in CS/HIPEC is surgery to remove all the visible cancer. (The prefix “cyto-” means “cell”; hence, cytoreductive surgery aims to reduce the number of cancer cells in the body.)

Once all of the visible cancer is removed, the surrounding organs are then washed in a high concentration chemotherapy, which is heated and applied during surgery as a one-time treatment. Studies indicate that this special form of chemotherapy can be particularly effective at removing the remaining microscopic cancer. For some patients, this may eliminate the need for a long, demanding course of traditional chemotherapy.

Surgery combined with the heated chemotherapy is a complex procedure set. Applying this therapy takes extensive experience and discerning judgment. Surgeons at the University of Colorado have over twenty years of experience using this approach, helping appropriate patients to be treated with a favorable outcome. This type of treatment is not available at many institutions outside of the University of Colorado.


Steve Ahrendt, MD, FACS

Steven A. Ahrendt, MD, FACS


Dr. Ahrendt received both his General Surgery and Surgical Oncology training at the Johns Hopkins University. He has been on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Rochester, and the University of Pittsburgh. He joined the faculty at the University of Colorado in May 2017 and serves as Director of the Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC program. He specializes in treating patients with complex gastrointestinal malignancies, including primary and metastatic colon and appendiceal cancer, with an emphasis on peritoneal surface malignancies or carcinomatosis. His research on cytoreductive surgery with intraperitoneal chemotherapy has been published in leading surgical journals. (View profile)

Ana Gleisner, MD, PhD

Ana Gleisner, MD, PhD


Dr. Gleisner received her General Surgery training at the Saint Louis University and completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She specializes in treating gastrointestinal cancers, including primary and metastatic colon and rectal tumors, with emphasis on minimally invasive surgery as well as on tumor debulking and hyperthermic perfusion. She has been with the University of Colorado School of Medicine since 2015 and is board certified in general surgery. Her research interests focus on the comparison of the efficacy of different surgical treatments for cancer being used across the country.  (View profile)

Medical Oncologists

S. Lindsey Davis, MD

S. Lindsey Davis, MD

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Davis completed her internal medicine and medical oncology training at the University of Colorado, and served as Chief Medical Resident and Chief Oncology Fellow in these programs. She is a member of the Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Program as well as the Developmental Therapeutics Program at the University of Colorado. Her research interest is in novel targeted therapies and immunotherapies for colorectal cancer. (View profile)


Sunnie Kim, MD

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Kim received her internal medicine training at New York University and completed a hematology and oncology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Kim's clinical interests include gastroenterologic cancer, colorectal cancer, biliary cancer, anal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. (View profile)

Alexis Leal, MD

Alexis Leal, MD

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Leal completed her internal medical and hematology and oncology training at Mayo Clinic and is a certified Silver Mayo Quality Fellow. Dr. Leal's clinical interests include treating patients with gastrointestinal malignancies, including colorectal cancer, anal cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, biliary (bile duct) cancers, gallbladder carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and neuroendocrine tumors of the GI tract. She also has an interest in developmental therapeutics and clinical trials. (View profile)

Christopher Lieu, MD

Christopher Lieu, MD

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Lieu joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in July 2011. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Colorado, where he also served as a Chief Medical Resident. He completed his fellowship training in medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and served as the Chief Medical Oncology Fellow in 2010. He currently serves as the Director of GI Medical Oncology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, is a member of the National Cancer Institute Colon Cancer Task Force, and serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Panel for Neuroendocrine Cancers. (View profile)

Wells Messersmith, MD

Wells Messersmith, MD

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Messersmith trained at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins. He joined the UCH faculty in 2007. Dr. Messersmith conducts both local and national translational clinical trials in cancers of the pancreas, colon, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. He serves as Head of the Division of Medical Oncology and co-Leader of Developmental Therapeutics at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. (View profile)

Tom Purcell, MD, MBA

W. Thomas Purcell, MD, MBA

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Purcell trained in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine, followed by residency training at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center/Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He then completed fellowship training in Medical Oncology at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Purcell joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in May of 2012. He is currently the Executive Medical Director of Oncology Services and Associate Director for Clinical Services at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. (View profile)

Clinic Coordinator


Whitney K. Herter, PA-C

Peritoneal Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic Coordinator

(View profile)


CU Anschutz

Academic Office One

12631 East 17th Avenue

Room: 6111

Aurora, CO 80045


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