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April 27, 2005

Hyperthermia in Cancer Treatment

Topics: Thermoradiotherapy

New Hope Cancer Centers has joined a growing number of leading cancer treatment centers to include hyperthermia therapy as an important component of their treatments for cancer. Clinical trials have shown a significant boost in both tumor control and long-term survival when hyperthermia therapy is combined with radiation therapy. In phase III clinical trials where hyperthermia therapy was added to ionizing radiation treatments, hyperthermia improved local relapse-free survival for head and neck cancer from 24% to 68%, 2-year local control of melanoma from 28% to 46%, complete response for recurrent breast cancer from 38% to 60%, 2-year survival for glioblastoma (brain cancer) from 15% to 31% and 3-year survival for advanced cervical cancer from 27% to 51%, as compared to the use of ionizing radiation therapy alone.

Hyperthermia is a type of cancer treatment in which body tissue is exposed to heat. It is almost always used with other forms of cancer therapy, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

What Is Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia is heat therapy. Heat has been used for hundreds of years as therapy. According to the National Cancer Institute(NCI), scientists believe that heat may help shrink tumors by damaging cells or depriving them of the substances they need to live. There are research studies underway to determine the use and effectiveness of hyperthermia in cancer treatment.

How is hyperthermia used?
Heat can be applied to a very small area or to an organ or limb. Hyperthermia is usually used with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatment therapies. There are several diferent types of hyperthermia in cancer treatment - local, regional, and whole body.

In local hyperthermia the treatment area includes a tumor or other small area. Heat is applied from the outside with high-frequency waves aimed at the tumor or inside the body a small area may be heated with thin heated wire probes, hollow tubes filled with warm water, or implanted microwave antennae and radiofrequency electrodes.

In regional hyperthermia an organ or a limb is treated. Magnets and devices that produce high energy are placed over the region to be heated or some of the patient's blood is removed, heated, and then pumped into the region to be heated. The process is called perfusion.

In whole body hyperthermia the whole body is treated when cancer has spread. Heat is applied by warm water blankets, hot wax, inductive coils (similar to the coils in an electric blanket), a thermal room, or chambers.

Are there any side effects?

There are no known complications of hyperthermia. Side effects may include skin discomfort or local pain. Hyperthermia can also cause blisters and occasionally burns but generally these heal quickly.

Additional reading ...

Posted by Richard at April 27, 2005 7:56 AM

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