Hyperthermia: Harnessing the Power of Heat to Treat Cancer

By Dr. Sharon Gurm

ehy-2000 plus

Hyperthermia — the treatment of cancer using heat—is one of the oldest cancer therapies known. Its first recorded use is described by the Egyptians in the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, dating back 5,000 years. Centuries later, doctors noted the regression of tumours in patients suffering with infectious fevers and induced fever to try to shrink tumours.

“Give me a chance to create fever and I will cure any disease.”

-Parmenides, 500 BC.
In 1898, Swedish physician Dr. Westermark reported the regression of inoperable cervical cancers using heated water. Since then, the role of hyperthermia to stimulate fever has been studied extensively, mainly in Europe. Innovative research led to the advent of the Oncotherm device, now the hyperthermic treatment of choice in Germany and other European countries. Several human clinical trials have clearly demonstrated that using the Oncotherm device—when combined with radiation—shrinks tumours, diminishes pain, significantly improves the quality of life, and increases survival rates—as dramatically as 200% in some cases.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), scientists believe this non-invasive heat therapy may help shrink tumors without harm to healthy 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 complementary use of this treatment for cancer.

Results from a large-scale retrospective study reflecting additional average survival times after hyoerthermia treatment, compared to SEER database (US National Cancer Agency Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results)

With such astounding benefits, the Oncotherm EHY-2000 plus device has changed the standard of cancer care in the areas of Europe where it is widely used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. Approximately 100,000 Oncothermia treatments per year are conducted worldwide to patients with a variety of different cancer types and stages of the disease. Recently, the Oncotherm EHY-2000 plus device became a Health Canada approved treatment and is available at Port Moody Health – Integrative Medicine & Cancer Centre.

How the Oncotherm Device Works

The Oncothermia EHY-2000 Plus device provides local-regional hyperthermia (LRHT), as it delivers a controlled energy dose to a localized treatment area. As a consequence of characteristics unique to the malignant (cancerous) cells, the energy delivered is selective for these cells and can heat the tumour to an optimal thermal range of 40-45 degrees Celsius, without damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Since cancer cells are physiologically different than healthy cells, the heat-delivery mechanisms of LRHT exploit these characteristics to weaken the proteins and structures of cancer cells, enhancing tumour destruction. Focussed heating also increases the flow of blood through the weakened tumour, increasing the uptake of chemotherapy and other drugs that may be utilized for their anti-cancer effects.

 

Hyperthermia: A Complementary Treatment to Chemotherapy

LRHT thereby allows for targeted uptake of the drug(s), amplifying their anti-cancer benefits while protecting healthy cells (also known as ‘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.

It is well known that tumors have low oxygen levels and this is one of the factors that leads to resistance of cancer cells to radiation. With focussed heating of the tumor, the oxygen levels within the tumor increase, making cancer cells more susceptible to the effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

For this reason, LRHT is best used in conjunction with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Heat also works like a fever to stimulate the body’s immune system, activating our innate immune cells that are critical for cancer cell destruction. Research has also shown that LRHT can activate an anti-cancer gene known as p53, which is ‘silent’ in most tumors.

The Oncotherm device is clearly one of the most exciting breakthroughs in integrative cancer care. For anyone dealing with cancer, especially advanced and/or metastatic disease, Hyperthermia is a safe and effective treatment, as demonstrated by phase II and III clinical trials.

Studies have shown that even tumors that have become resistant to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation may respond again to these therapies following LRHT treatment.

Hyperthermia using the Oncothermia EHY-2000 Plus device offers hope and an opportunity to improve outcomes beyond what can be achieved with standard care alone.

If you wish to learn more about Cancer Prevention and Integrative Cancer Care, please contact our care coordinators @604-949-0077 to book an appointment with Dr. Gurm.

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