UNDATED (WJRT) -
(06/11/14) - Twenty-two thousand women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year and more than 14,000 die.
Doctors say it's sneaky and often caught too late - but now, they are heating up ovarian cancer and saving lives.
This year, Helen and Charles Szablya are celebrating 20 years of marriage. It's a milestone they weren't sure they'd both live to see.
Five years ago, tests showed Helen had stage four cancer. A tumor so big that doctors said they couldn't even see her ovaries.
"The doctor called me in the next day, he said, 'I need you to understand you have got a very serious kind of cancer,'" Helen said.
Eighty percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed very late.
At Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Dr. Armando Sardi offered Helen a new and aggressive treatment called Hipec. First, he removed all traces of her tumor, along with her spleen, gall bladder, ovaries, uterus, appendix, fallopian tubes and part of her liver. Then he put catheters in Helen's abdomen and delivered heated chemotherapy.
"Heat kills cancer cells but also enhances the effects of chemotherapy," Sardi said.
The chemo circulates for 90 minutes and reaches about 109 degrees fahrenheit. Researchers are studying Hipec as a first line therapy for women with ovarian cancer in a phase two trial.
Helen has been cancer-free for five years. Now, couple is looking forward to celebrating many more anniversaries together.
Researchers are still enrolling patients right now.