Hyperthermia Therapy Explained

Hyperthermia Cancer Institute – Los Angeles

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Randomized clinical studies show that Hyperthermia improves response rate for some cancers by as much as 44% compared to standard radiation therapy.
(1,2*) Based on more than 30 years of clinical success and scientific studies Hyperthermia therapy is a powerful and effective treatment for cancer.

We developed a unique cancer treatment program using Hyperthermia in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to achieve response rates of two times or more than the standard cancer therapies, with no additional side effects (2,5).

What is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is a cancer therapy approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to be used with either radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat tumors. Hyperthermia increases the temperature of the tumor, and is a gentle, yet powerful therapy for patients with cancer. Side effects tend to be few and mild.

Our center uses ultrasound technology to increase the temperature of the tumor to approximately 40o to 43o C or 104o to 109o F for approximately 45 minutes per session. The number of sessions is individualized, and typically tracks with your radiation or chemotherapy regimen.

When the tumor is heated, the outer membranes of the tumor cells becomes more permeable, and blood flow to the tumor increase. This makes the tumor more vulnerable to the body’s own defenses, including an immune response. It also makes radiation therapy and chemotherapy work better. We are still investigating the many ways that hyperthermia makes tumors more vulnerable. But here’s what the data suggest.

hyperthermia chart

Hyperthermia exposes neoantigens (these are simply the mutated or inappropriately produced proteins inside tumor cells). The body can then access and mount an immune response against these proteins. Hyperthermia can also cause the release of HSPs (heat shock proteins) that act as signals telling the immune system should attack the tumor.

Another way that hyperthermia helps you to fight cancer is to make radiation and chemotherapy more effective. To learn more, please click on the other sliders on our Website’s Home page.

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

Hyperthermia improves your body’s ability to fight cancer

Similar to when you have an infection, your body does indeed mount a response against cancer… and many times it wins. Your body wins against the cancers you never knew you had. For example, a cancer starts with a small number of cells, and if it is vanquished, you remain healthy. Like more serious infections, cancers that evade our body’s defenses can grow and spread.

So what are our body’s defenses against cancer? It turns out they are much like the defenses against infection. Your body recognizes that the cancer is part of you, but it also recognizes that the tumor cells have foreign and damaging elements in the form of mutated proteins and various inflammatory chemicals that the tumor cells make.

Your body can usually mount an immune reaction where certain cells of our immune system attack the cancer cells. In addition, some people’s tumor causes fever. There have been a number of descriptions of very high fevers in patients with cancer resulting in the disappearance of the tumor cells. We are just now beginning to understand the reasons why, in some cases, fever and an inflammatory reaction against the tumor cells can be important ways our body fights cancer.

Hyperthermia has been used for years and is FDA-approved. It was designed to be a gentle, yet powerful therapy for patients with cancer. Side effects tend to be few and mild. In our center, hyperthermia allows our practitioners to use ultrasound technology to direct heat to the location of the tumor, even if it’s deep within the body. This heat disrupts the cell membranes and increases blood flow to the tumor. This makes the tumor more vulnerable both to our body’s defenses, as well as to other therapies. Click on the other sliders on our Website’s Home page for further explanations of hyperthermia and how it can increase the effectiveness of other therapies.

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

BH Thermal Medicine Hyperthermia Outcomes

Hyperthermia helps your current therapy work better

If you are about to undergo radiation or chemotherapy, you might be a candidate for hyperthermia cancer therapy. Hyperthermia is simply increasing the temperature of the tumor. Hyperthermia is FDA-approved, and was designed to be a gentle, yet powerful therapy for patients with cancer. Side effects tend to be few and mild.

Our center uses ultrasound technology aiming to increase the temperature of the tumor in a targeted way. This causes the tumor cells to become more vulnerable to both our body’s natural defense mechanisms, and to radiation and chemotherapy. Hyperthermia makes the tumor cell membranes more permeable and increases blood flow to the tumor. Data suggest that this makes the cells more fragile and can directly damage the tumor cells. Heating the tumor also delivers more tumor-fighting white blood cells to the tumor, thereby helping the body’s immune system fight the cancer.

Radiation therapy damages the DNA of the cancer cells and causes them to undergo cell death, particularly when they begin to divide and make more cancer cells. Many studies have documented that adding hyperthermia therapy to radiation therapy improves outcomes for some tumors. We are still learning how hyperthermia can increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy. One way this might occur is that the increased permeability and fragility of the cancer cells caused by hyperthermia enable the radiation to more easily penetrate the tumor and to make the tumor DNA more accessible and easier to damage. Plus, hyperthermia itself might damage DNA.

Different chemotherapies act in different ways; but, like radiation, many act to disrupt tumor cell DNA. Multiple studies have documented that adding hyperthermia to chemotherapy improves outcomes for some tumors. We are still learning how hyperthermia can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. By making the tumor cell membranes more permeable and by increasing blood flow to tumors, hyperthermia may increase the concentration of chemotherapy in the tumor. This would increase the effect of the chemotherapy on the tumor, but not damage surrounding cells that are not heated.


How Hyperthermia Works – Direct Effect

The targeted heat delivered during hyperthermia treatments alone kills many cancer cells. Tumors are growing rapidly, and often their blood supply becomes insufficient for their size. Without proper blood supply, nutrients, oxygen and waste removal are limited. These factors have many implications for effective treatment strategies: Heat: When heat is applied to the body (during the hyperthermia treatment), tumors retain heat more than normal tissue because of the restricted blood flow. The heat can directly damage the tumor cellular membrane, nucleus and cell skeleton, causing tumor cellular death. Effect on pH: The restricted blood flow to tumors also affects waste removal. Increased waste, leads to higher acidity (Low pH). The application of heat through hyperthermia treatments increase anaerobic metabolites (waste), making the cell microenvironment toxi


Types of Hyperthermia

Combination Therapy

deep thermal therapyIt is well documented that radiation and chemotherapy have better results when tumors have good blood flow. This is because radiation primarily destroys cancer cells through oxygen radicals that attack the cellular DNA. Chemotherapy relies on blood flow to bring medications to the tumor site. However, as previously stated, tumors often do not have a very good blood supply. The heat of hyperthermia treatments dilate blood vessels in and around the tumor, bringing more oxygen rich blood (enhancing local effect of radiation) and more medication directly into the tumor (enhancing local effect of chemotherapy).

Heat Shock Proteins

When cells are exposed to heat, the therapy stimulates the production of proteins called Heat Shock Proteins (HSP’s). These proteins play a variety of roles within the cell and immune response. HSPs can act as alert signals, activating the immune system. They are also able to refold denatured (damaged) proteins- part of the cellular repair mechanism, or mark irreversibly damaged proteins for destruction- initiating what is called apoptosis, or programmed tumor cell death. When heat specifically destroys tumor cells, the cell releases tumor antigens that can be recognized by the immune system. The body’s immune system therefore has a heightened awareness of that cancer type- generating potent antitumor T-cell response. Which may help target metastatic disease.

Triggers Natural Immune Response

Cancer cells are often undetected by the body’s own 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 of cancer cells, allowing for the body’s immune system to detect and destroy these cells.

Deep Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia increases the response rate for some deep tumors by 26% in comparison with the standard treatment(1).
Deep Hyperthermia approaches may be used to treat cancers within the body, such as cervical, prostate or bladder cancer, which cannot be heated by standard external hyperthermia.

External deep ultrasound is a very effective in heating deep tumors by using an array of ultrasound transducers focused on the tumor. Our treatment system, the Sonotherm 1000, manufactured by Labthermics is the only hyperthermia equipment approved by the FDA for deep hyperthermia treatments.

Van Der Zee (1), in March of 2003 reported on treating 114 patients with cancer of bladder, cervix and rectum. These patients were treated with 68Gy of external beam radiation. The group that received hyperthermia in addition plus standard treatment had a complete response rate of 83% while the same rate for patients that received the standard treatment was 57%.

1-(INT. J. HYPERTHERMIA, 2002, VOL. 18, NO. 1, 1-12)

Please click on the other sliders on our Website’s Home page to find out more about what hyperthermia is and how it can help your body’s natural defenses against cancer.

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

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment and find out more about hyperthermia therapy for cancer treatment, please call The Hyperthermia Cancer Institute in the Los Angeles area at (888) 580-5900 or use our interactive Online Appointment Request Form.