Hyperthermia Therapy Overview
Hyperthermia therapy is a type of medical treatment in which body tissue is exposed to slightly higher temperatures to damage and kill cancer cells or to make cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and certain anti-cancer drugs. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is probably the most commonly used type of local hyperthermia. It uses high-energy radio waves for treatment. A thin, needle-like probe is put into the tumor for a short time, usually about 10 to 30 minutes. Placement of the probe is guided using ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans. The tip of the probe puts out a high-frequency current that creates heat (between 122° and about 212°F) and destroys the cells within a certain area. The dead cells are not removed, but become scar tissue and shrink over time.
Methods of Hyperthermia
There is several methods of hyperthermia currently under study, including local, regional, and whole-body hyperthermia.
In Local Hyperthermia, heat is applied to a small area, such as a tumor, using various techniques that deliver energy to heat the tumor. Different types of energy may be used to apply heat, including microwave, radiofrequency, and ultrasound. Depending on the tumor location, there are several approaches to local hyperthermia:
In Regional Hyperthermia, various approaches may be used to heat large areas of tissue, such as a body cavity, organ, or limb.
Whole-body Hyperthermia is used to treat metastatic cancer that has spread throughout the body. This can be accomplished by several techniques that raise the body temperature to 107-108°F, including the use of thermal chambers (similar to large incubators) or hot water blankets.
The possible side effects of hyperthermia depend on the technique being used and the part of the body being treated. Most side effects are short-term, but some can be serious.
Local hyperthermia can cause:
Regional and whole body hyperthermia can cause:
One or two thin probes that measure temperature will be placed just beneath the surface of the skin in the area to be treated. Prior to the probe placement, an anesthetic cream will be applied to your skin; a physician will also use a small needle to inject another numbing agent.
In a same time temperature sensors will also be placed on the skin providing accurate measurements for heat control. Using focused microwave energy, the tumor is heated to approximately 108 degrees. Patient may feel a warm sensation.