WHAT IS HYPERTHERMIA?
In oncology, the term ‘hyperthermia’ refers to the treatment of malignant (cancerous) diseases by administering heat in various ways. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), scientists believe that this non-invasive heat therapy may help shrink tumors with minimal injury to normal tissue. The results from human clinical trials indicate that hyperthermia is both an effective complementary treatment to, and a strong sensitizer of, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Worldwide, evidence for the benefits of hyperthermia in integrated cancer care continues to mount, establishing a clear rationale for the use of hyperthermia in cancer treatment.
WHAT IS LOCAL-REGIONAL HYPERTHERMIA (LRHT)
Local-Regional Hyperthermia-LRHT (Modulated Electro-hyperthermia using the Oncothermia EHY-2000 Plus device) employs a modulated electric field current to selectively deliver a controlled energy dose to a localized treatment area. A mobile electrode is positioned on the treatment area, while a second stationary electrode remains in a fixed position below the patient, integrated within the therapy bed. Operating at a carrier frequency of 13.56 MHz, this capacitive coupled circuit delivers energy directly to the malignant cells.
One of the most significant effects of LRHT is its ability to sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy (chemo-sensitization). The positive results of phase II & III clinical trials have established that LRHT with chemotherapy is a novel clinical modality that allows the chemotherapy to be better targeted within the heated tumor.
The aim of LRHT is to achieve the optimal thermal dose in the tumor tissue. This is generally defined as a modest elevation of temperature to a range of 40° to 45°C. without exceeding the tolerance limits of the surrounding normal tissues, which means very low risk of healthy tissue damage.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HYPERTHERMIA THERAPY?
When focused heating is used to raise the temperature of tumor tissue, it generates several physiological advantages to treating the malignant tumor:
- Reduced tumor growth and invasion: Heat damages or weakens the proteins and structures within cells of the tumor, slowing the growth and spread of the tumor.
- Chemo-sensitization & targeted drug uptake: Heat increases blood flow through the weakened tumor allowing targeted uptake of chemotherapy, thereby amplifying the anti-cancer effects on the tumor while protecting healthy tissue.
- Radio-sensitization & apoptosis induction: The tumor environment is pathologically hypoxic (has low oxygen levels) which contributes to resistance to radiation therapy. Heating raises oxygen levels in tumors (via increased blood flow) so the cancer can be more effectively treated by radiation therapy, stimulating apoptosis (cancer cell death) and tumor necrosis (destruction).
- Enhanced anti-angiogenesis: LRHT has been shown to enhance the effect of anti-angiogenic drugs (agents used to inhibit tumor blood vessel formation) commonly used in metastatic disease (e.g. bevacizumab).
- Immune induction: The body senses fever and can stimulate the immune system (via increased expression and release of heat shock proteins), activating and employing the body’s natural innate immune mechanisms, thereby assisting the anti-tumor response.
- Activation of tumor suppressor genes: LRHT has been demonstrated to activate p53 – a tumor suppressor gene that is silenced in most cancers. It codes for a critical molecule that is responsible for inducing cancer cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, as well as DNA repair of abnormal cells.
In addition, LRHT has application in the post-surgical setting to treat potential rogue cells liberated via biopsy or surgery.
ARE THERE ANY ADVERSE SIDE-EFFECTS TO LOCAL-REGIONAL HYPERTHERMIA?
Clinical trials have demonstrated that LRHT presents minimal risk and limited adverse side effects. Heating the tumor has minimal effect on adjacent healthy tissue. Healthy tissue has the ability to dissipate the heat efficiently while cancerous tissue is incapable of this due to its more primitive blood supply and dense unorganized cellular makeup. Surface effects are generally limited to slight reddening of the skin. Patients are monitored regularly by our physicians and nurses throughout the duration of treatment to monitor for discomfort.
CAN LOCAL-REGIONAL HYPERTHERMIA BE COMBINED WITH OTHER TREATMENTS?
LRHT is intended for use as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. LRHT has proven to be complementary to these treatments by enhancing the beneficial effects of chemotherapy and radiation while helping to mitigate side effects. Studies have shown that tumors that have become resistant to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation may respond again to these therapies following LRHT treatment.
WHICH CANCERS CAN BE TREATED THROUGH LOCAL-REGIONAL HYPERTHERMIA?
LRHT is a treatment for solid tumor cancers, with indications for both primary and metastatic malignancies, as demonstrated by phase II & III clinical trials. Need more clinical and scientific references? Click here.
I HAVE A CERTAIN TYPE OF CANCER, CAN HYPERTHERMIA OR OTHER CANCER INTEGRATIVE CANCER THERAPIES HELP?
Hyperthermia is used as part of a coordinated, focused and comprehensive integrative cancer approach at Port Moody Health. To be able to advise integrative cancer therapy, one of our physicians will need to carry out an evaluation of your cancer type, stage, and location.
There are many integrative cancer therapy options and the right type of care is individualized to the unique needs of the patient.
For more information on hyperthermia and other integrative cancer therapies offered at our clinic, please speak to our cancer care coordinators at (604) 949-0077.