A type of treatment in which body tissue is exposed to high temperatures to damage and kill cancer cells or to make cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and certain anticancer drugs.
Hyperthermia in Cancer Treatment
Source: The website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)
What is hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is under study in clinical trials (research studies with people) and is not widely available.
Hyperthermia is almost always used with other forms of cancer therapy, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Hyperthermia may make some cancer cells more sensitive to radiation or harm other cancer cells that radiation cannot damage. When hyperthermia and radiation therapy are combined, they are often given within an hour of each other. Hyperthermia can also enhance the effects of certain anticancer drugs.
Numerous clinical trials have studied hyperthermia in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. These studies have focused on the treatment of many types of cancer, including sarcoma, melanoma, and cancers of the head and neck, brain, lung, esophagus, breast, bladder, rectum, liver, appendix, cervix, and peritoneal lining (mesothelioma). Many of these studies, but not all, have shown a significant reduction in tumor size when hyperthermia is combined with other treatments. However, not all of these studies have shown increased survival in patients receiving the combined treatments.
Several methods of hyperthermia are currently under study, including local, regional, and whole-body hyperthermia.
- In local 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:
- External 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.
- Intraluminal 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.
- Interstitial 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.
- In regional hyperthermia, various approaches may be used to heat large areas of tissue, such as a body cavity, organ, or limb.
- Deep tissue 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.
- Regional 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.
- Continuous 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.
- Whole-body 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 properly positioned.
Most normal tissues are not damaged during hyperthermia if the temperature remains under 111°F. However, due to regional differences in tissue characteristics, higher temperatures may occur in various spots. This can result in burns, blisters, discomfort, or pain. Perfusion techniques can cause tissue swelling, blood clots, bleeding, and other damage to the normal tissues in the perfused area; however, most of these side effects are temporary. Whole-body hyperthermia can cause more serious side effects, including cardiac and vascular disorders, but these effects are uncommon. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are commonly observed after whole-body hyperthermia.
This study noted: The use of hyperthermia as an adjunct to cancer immunotherapy is supported by an increasing number of research data. Both preclinical and clinical data results have demonstrated improved antitumor immune responses with the addition of mild hyperthermia.
This study says: WBH is a highly effective method of treating patients with generalized forms of malignant tumors, in which traditional methods of treatment are ineffective or seemingly unpromising, unresectable forms of tumors with the purpose of their translation as a result of regression into a resectable state, non-radical or conditionally radical surgery and malignant neoplasms, which in the course of treatment developed resistance to cytostatic therapy (chemo- and radioresistant tumors).
This study says: … researchers showed that heat can cause tumor regression, and suggested that hyperthermia stimulates an antitumor immune response for immunogenic tumors. Our investigation has shown that hyperthermia can be useful in cancer therapy, particularly in the management of patients with recurrent tumors in areas subjected to previous irradiation.
Study: The use of hyperthermia alone has resulted in complete overall response rates of 13%. The clinical value of hyperthermia in addition to other treatment modalities has been shown in randomised trials. Significant improvement in clinical outcome has been demonstrated for tumours of the head and neck, breast, brain, bladder, cervix, rectum, lung, oesophagus, vulva and vagina, and also for melanoma. Additional hyperthermia resulted in remarkably higher (complete) response rates, accompanied by improved local tumour control rates, better palliative effects and/or better overall survival rates
Study: Recent advances have highlighted a number of mechanisms by which heat application may interact with the immune system. Some of them are suggesting a similarity between external induction of elevated temperatures and fever, a highly conserved physiological mechanism in the defence against exogenous agents and tumours…Programmed cell death in lymphocytes is essential for immune regulation. Since alterations of immune responses are induced by hyperthermia, apoptosis [programmed cell death] might therefore occur after hyperthermia as well. Apoptosis represents a universal death programme that may be induced by a wide variety of stimuli in a relatively uniform way. During therapeutical hyperthermia, a variety of biochemical and immunological functions are altered.
Study: Fever-range hyperthermia also functions as a biological adjuvant, activating APC and tumour immunity through a number of mechanisms… At higher temperatures, hyperthermia may function to boost hsp expression and release as well as inducing independent effects on immune cell activation.
Study: The role of the immune system in eradicating malignant cells is not yet clarified, however spontaneous regression of some cancers has been demonstrated to be associated to the induction of fever and activation of immunity. The crucial importance of fever in these regressions justifies the attempt to induce artificial thermal elevation of body temperature (hyperthermia) for mimicking natural fever effects on cancer…
The recent recognized involvement in innate immune response, increases further the interest of hyperthermia, but increase the regret for the time missed abandoning Coley’s Toxin and Mixed Bacterial Vaccine too.
If you are unable to access treatment you could aim for a daily sauna.