Cancer Treatment

Local Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia therapy is a type of treatment in which body tissue is exposed to high temperatures (up to 106ºF), to damage and kill cancer cells, or to make cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and certain anticancer drugs. Local hyperthermia treatment (heat applied to a very small area, such as a tumor) is a well-established cancer treatment method with a simple basic principle: If a rise in temperature to 106ºF can be obtained for one hour within a cancer tumor, the cancer cells will be destroyed. Primary malignant tumors have a bad blood circulation, which make them more sensitive to changes in temperature.

Hyperthermia therapy is almost always used with other forms of therapy (radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy) to increase their effectiveness. With hyperthermia therapy 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 electrodes.

One technique uses ultra-high frequency sound waves to produce heat within the tumor. Ultrasound is more easily focused than other energy modalities, and can be applied to tumors located from the skin to 8 centimeters within your body. This allows the treatment of tumors unreachable by other external modalities. Ultrasound doesn't require the use of radiowave shielding devices to protect medical personnel during treatment.

In another approach, called hyperthermia perfusion, a warmed solution containing anticancer drugs is used to bathe, or is passed through the blood vessels of, the tissue or organ containing the tumor. Some of your blood is removed, heated, and then pumped (perfused) into the region that is to be heated internally.

Another form of hyperthermia involves heating the whole body. Whole-body heating is used to treat metastatic cancer that has spread throughout the body. It can be accomplished using warm-water blankets, hot wax, inductive coils (like those in electric blankets), or thermal chambers (similar to large incubators).

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