Femtalk USA - Cancer Section
Hyperthermia - heat treatment for cancer
called thermal therapy or thermotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment in
which body tissue is exposed to high temperatures (up to 113°F).
Research has shown
that high temperatures can damage and kill cancer cells, usually with
minimal injury to normal tissues (1). By killing cancer cells and damaging
proteins and structures within cells (2), hyperthermia may shrink tumors.
Several methods of
hyperthermia are currently under study, including local, regional, and
hyperthermia, heat is applied to a small area, such as a tumor,
using various techniques that deliver energy to heat the tumor. Different
types of energy may be used to apply heat, including microwave,
radiofrequency, and ultrasound. Depending on the tumor location, there are
several approaches to local hyperthermia:
approaches are used to treat tumors that are in or just below the skin.
External applicators are positioned around or near the appropriate region,
and energy is focused on the tumor to raise its temperature.
or endocavitary methods may be used to treat tumors
within or near body cavities, such as the esophagus or rectum. Probes are
placed inside the cavity and inserted into the tumor to deliver energy and
heat the area directly.
techniques are used to treat tumors deep within the body, such as brain
tumors. This technique allows the tumor to be heated to higher
temperatures than external techniques. Under anesthesia, probes or needles
are inserted into the tumor. Imaging techniques, such as ultrasound, may
be used to make sure the probe is properly positioned within the tumor.
The heat source is then inserted into the probe. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
is a type of interstitial hyperthermia that uses radio waves to heat and
kill cancer cells.
hyperthermia, various approaches may be used to heat large areas
of tissue, such as a body cavity, organ, or limb. |
approaches may be used to treat cancers within the body, such as cervical
or bladder cancer. External applicators are positioned around the body
cavity or organ to be treated, and microwave or radiofrequency energy is
focused on the area to raise its temperature. |
perfusion techniques can be used to treat cancers in the arms and
legs, such as melanoma, or cancer in some organs, such as the liver or
lung. In this procedure, some of the patient’s blood is removed, heated,
and then pumped (perfused) back into the limb or organ. Anticancer drugs
are commonly given during this treatment.
hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion (CHPP) is a technique used to
treat cancers within the peritoneal cavity (the space within the abdomen
that contains the intestines, stomach, and liver), including primary
peritoneal mesothelioma and stomach cancer. During surgery, heated
anticancer drugs flow from a warming device through the peritoneal cavity.
The peritoneal cavity temperature reaches 106–108°F.|
hyperthermia is used to treat metastatic cancer that has spread
throughout the body. This can be accomplished by several techniques that
raise the body temperature to 107–108°F, including the use of thermal
chambers (similar to large incubators) or hot water blankets. |
The effectiveness of
hyperthermia treatment is related to the temperature achieved during the
treatment, as well as the length of treatment and cell and tissue
characteristics. To ensure that the desired temperature is reached, but
not exceeded, the temperature of the tumor and surrounding tissue is
monitored throughout hyperthermia treatment. Using local anesthesia, the
doctor inserts small needles or tubes with tiny thermometers into the
treatment area to monitor the temperature. Imaging techniques, such as
CT (computed tomography), may be used to make sure the probes are
Cancer cures and advice Index
Hyperthermia is almost
always used with other forms of therapy (radiation therapy, chemotherapy,
and biological therapy) to increase their effectiveness. The area may be
heated externally with high-frequency waves aimed at a tumor from a device
outside the body. To achieve internal heating, one of several types of
sterile probes may be used, including thin, heated wires or hollow tubes
filled with warm water; implanted microwave antennae; and radiofrequency
Hyperthermia does not usually cause marked increase in radiation side
effects. Heat applied directly to the skin, however, can cause discomfort or
even significant local pain in about half the people treated with this
procedure. It can also cause blisters, which generally heal rapidly.
Cancer cells typically
die between 107 F and 111 F, depending on exposure time and other factors.
Cancer cells do not like oxygen, do not like high pH (alkaline) conditions,
but love sugar and low pH (acid conditions). Very thin thermocouples are
taped to the surface of the skin over the affected area, and are used to
monitor the temperature over time which is induced by the microwave
machine. The affected area is typically heated to between 114 F and 120 F.
This degree of heating is normally not uncomfortable, and if there is any
discomfort, the heating is adjusted downwards.
Experience has shown
that the positive effects of heating the affected area (including increased
oxygen supply) lasts for about 24 hours. Therefore, the best results have
been obtained when the treatments continue 5 days per week
Low dose radiation is
provided to the affected area either before or after the heat treatment and
also continues 5 days per week. Radiation dosages typically start about 180
centiGrays (cGy) per day, and then after a few weeks, the radiation dosages
are gradually reduced as the treatment progresses, and after 10 or 12 weeks,
the radiation dosages are down to about 30 or 50 cGy per day. The total
radiation dose after 10 or 12 weeks adds up to about 5000 or 7000 cGy, but
given over a long period of time. Conventional medicine generally provides
much higher levels of radiation given over a much shorter period of time,
which has been found to be much less effective for successful treatment of
These low dose radiation treatments serve several purposes:
|to kill the cancer
cells that survive hyperthermia heat treatments because they get the
benefit of cooling from adjacent healthy tissue.|
|to kill cancer
cells that try to migrate to adjacent areas, such as adjacent lymph
|to kill cancer
cells in areas that might have been missed by the hyperthermia heat
After several weeks,
the tumor is seen to shrink in size and eventually to disappear completely.
Patients are encouraged to drink lots of water to assist in flushing away
through the kidneys any toxins released as the cancer cells die.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. The products and information contained herein are not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases
or medical problems. This is not intended to replace your
doctor's recommendations. The information is provided for educational
purposes only. Nutritional benefits may vary from one person to another.