Treating Cancer with Hyperthermia
Hyperthermia is, by definition, the condition of having a body temperature greatly above normal; it is not to be confused with hypothermia, known as having a body temperature below normal. The average body temperature for human beings is 98.6°F, or 37°C. Body temperature is crucial in maintaining health because many of the vital life functions carried out within your body are “possible only between certain narrowly defined limits of temperature. Cold inhibits and excessive heat suspends them. Body heat is energy. It is employed not just in resisting cold, but also in accelerating cellular activities.” Science classes in school often taught us that bad things happen when our homeostasis, including internal body temperature, is disrupted. However, this is not always true.
Can positive things happen to our body when heat and high temperatures are purposefully utilized in strategic ways? Yes.
Treating Cancer with Hyperthermia
Hyperthermia, or an elevated temperature, is used to treat cancer by damaging or destroying tumors using heat. Specifically, “during a hyperthermia treatment, the cancerous tumor is heated to a temperature between 40 and 45°C (104 -113° F) for a certain period of time. Since cancer cells can’t tolerate high temperatures as well as healthy cells, parts of the cancer cells can become damaged by the heat.”
Hyperthermia is most frequently, and most reliably, performed through two methods:
Both local and regional hyperthermia treatments are effective and beneficial to fighting cancer, as they each utilize high temperatures to “damage and kill cancer cells, usually with minimal injury to normal tissues. By killing cancer cells and damaging proteins and structures within cells, hyperthermia may shrink tumors.”
It is important to note that “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.”
Local hyperthermia treatment occurs when “very high temperatures are used to kill the cancer cells and destroy nearby blood vessels. In effect, this cooks the area that is exposed to the heat. And, as with cooking, the higher the temperature and duration of exposure, the greater the effect seen within tissues.” During local hyperthermia treatments,“different types of energy may be used to apply heat, including microwave, radio-frequency, and ultrasound,” so the treatment is adjustable to your specific medical condition, with regard to your doctors’ discretion, as well as the location of the tumor.
For example, local hyperthermia may be applied externally, primarily to 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.”
Local hyperthermia can also be used to treat tumors within or near body cavities, as well as those that are deep within the body.
Regional hyperthermia differs from local hyperthermia in that heat is applied to large areas of tissue, such as a limb, organ, or other body cavity or surface.
One “approach to regional hyperthermia is deep tissuehyperthermia. This treatment uses devices that are placed on the surface of the organ or body cavity and produce high energy waves directed at a certain area. These devices give off radiofrequency or microwave energy to heat the area being treated.”
Another way in which regional hyperthermia treatment is utilized is through “external applicators, [which] 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.”
Hyperthermia and You
Hyperthermia is an advanced treatment that requires the utmost attention to detail because the body is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in internal temperature, which can alter the homeostatic normality within the body. Hyperthermia treatment is also implemented in a range of techniques locally and regionally, thus making the treatment flexible to your specific medical circumstance as part of your overall treatment plan.
CMN Hospital proudly offers hyperthermia in conjunction with our other treatments; to learn more about other treatments offered click here and to learn more about our hyperthermia treatment, contact us here.