Hyperthermia Explained

Hyperthermia Cancer Institute – Los Angeles

•Veterans Welcome•Medicare Accepted•FDA Approved

Schedule Your Appointment

With more than 30 years of clinical success and scientific studies, Hyperthermia treatment is a powerful and effective treatment for cancer. Compared to standard radiation therapy, randomized clinical studies show that Hyperthermia improves radiation treatment response rates by as much as 44%. (1,2*)  Patients usually sleep, listen to music, or watch T.V. during the relaxing treatment. The ultrasound therapy is non-toxic and non-detrimental to healthy tissue.

Hyperthermia’s Impact on Cancer Cells

  • Increases permeability of cells to chemotherapy.
  • Triggers apoptosis.
  • Prevents the production of cancer cell building blocks.
  • Breaks down important cellular proteins.
  • Creation of Heat Shock Protein to trigger apoptosis.
  • Impairment of RNA/DNA creation.
  • Inhibits DNA repair.
  • Alters DNA packaging.
  • Disrupts cellular metabolism.

What Is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is a cancer therapy approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to treat tumors. Hyperthermia increases the temperature of the tumor and is a gentle, yet powerful treatment for patients with cancer. Side effects tend to be few and mild.
At our center, practitioners use ultrasound technology to direct heat to the location of the tumor, even if it’s deep within the body. The ultrasound energy increases the temperature of the tumor to approximately 42°C – 44°C (-107°F – 111°F ) for about 45 minutes per session. The number of sessions is individualized and typically tracks with your radiation or chemotherapy regimen.

This heat disrupts the cell membranes and increases blood flow to the tumor,  making the tumor more vulnerable both to our body’s defenses, as well as to other therapies.

Hyperthermia can be used to treat certain tumors. Please call us to find out if you are a candidate.

Hyperthermia Activates The Immune System

Hyperthermia helps improve your body’s ability to fight cancer by triggering natural immune defenses. Very high fevers in patients with cancer have been documented, and some resulted in the disappearance of the tumor cells. We are now beginning to understand the reasons why, in some cases, fever and an inflammatory reaction against the cancer cells are fundamental ways our body fights cancer.

Hyperthermia helps the body to recognize that the cancer cells have foreign and damaging elements, such as mutated proteins and various inflammatory chemicals. This triggers the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Cancer cells are often undetected by the body’s immune system because their surface antigens are hidden. Without visible surface antigens, there is no way for our body’s immune system to detect these cancer cells and destroy them. The heat from hyperthermia treatment unmasks the hidden surface antigens, allowing for the body’s immune system to detect and destroy these cells.  

Hyperthermia Enhances Your Current Therapy

Hyperthermia causes tumor cells to become more vulnerable to both radiation and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy damages the DNA of cancer cells, causing them to undergo cell death.

Hyperthermia prevents cancer cells from repairing themselves after radiation therapy, enabling damage from the radiation to accumulate in the cancer cell DNA. Adding hyperthermia treatments to radiation therapy sensitizes cancer cells to radiation therapy.  

Chemotherapy relies on blood flow to bring medications to the tumor site. However, tumors often have an inadequate blood supply. The heat of hyperthermia dilates blood vessels in and around the tumor, bringing in more blood to enhance the local effect of chemotherapy by increasing the concentration of chemotherapy in the tumor. This increases the effect of chemotherapy on the tumor without further damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. 

Hyperthermia’s Heat Directly Disrupts Tumors

Tumors grow rapidly, and often their blood supply becomes insufficient for their size. When heat is applied to the body, tumors retain heat more than healthy tissue because of the restricted blood flow. The concentrated heat can directly damage the tumor cell membrane, nucleus and cell skeleton, causing apoptosis, or cell death.

The restricted blood flow to tumors also decreases waste removal, which increases the acidity of the tumor. Hyperthermia treatments further acidify the tumor, making the cancer cell’s microenvironment toxic.

When cells are exposed to heat, they produce Heat Shock Proteins (HSP’s). These proteins play a variety of roles within the cell and immune response. HSP’s act as alert signals, activating the immune system. They mark irreversibly damaged proteins for destruction- initiating what is called apoptosis, or programmed tumor cell death. Hyperthermia’s ability to produce HSPs helps actively kill cancer cells within the heated tumor.

Our Machine: The Sonotherm 1000

Ultrasound waves are very effective at deep heating tumors. Our treatment system, the Sonotherm 1000, manufactured by Labthermics, is the only hyperthermia equipment approved by the FDA for deep hyperthermia treatments.

First, patients are evaluated by our team to determine whether or not hyperthermia is an option for them, and a treatment plan is created that complements their existing oncologist’s plan. Based on the treatment plan, the appropriately sized applicator head and ultrasound frequency to achieve the therapeutic temperature range for treatment.

Patients usually sleep, listen to music, or watch TV during the relaxing treatment. The ultrasound therapy is non-toxic and non-detrimental to healthy tissue.

Contact Us

For more information about hyperthermia for cancer treatment, please call The Hyperthermia Cancer Institute at (888) 580-5900 or contact us to schedule an appointment.