What is Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia (also called thermal therapy or thermotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment in which body tissue is exposed to high temperatures (up to 113°F). Research has shown high temperatures can damage and kill cancer cells, usually with minimal injury to normal tissues. By killing cancer cells and damaging proteins and structures within cells, hyperthermia may shrink tumors.
Hyperthermia is under study in clinical trials (research studies with people) and is not widely available.
Hyperthermia may make some cancer cells more sensitive to radiation or harm other cancer cells radiation cannot damage. When hyperthermia and radiation therapy are combined, they are often given within an hour of each other. Hyperthermia can also enhance the effects of certain anticancer drugs, herbals, ozone therapy and other holistic treatments.
Is hyperthermia used to treat pet cancer?
Hyperthermia is almost always used with other forms of cancer therapy, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other holistic cancer therapies. Hyperthermia may make some cancer cells more sensitive to radiation or harm other cancer cells that radiation cannot damage. When hyperthermia and radiation therapy are combined, they are often given within an hour of each other. Hyperthermia can also enhance the effects of certain anticancer drugs.
Numerous clinical trials have studied hyperthermia in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. These studies have focused on the treatment of many types of cancer, including sarcoma, melanoma, and cancers of the head and neck, brain, lung, breast, bladder, rectum, liver, and peritoneal lining. Many of these studies, but not all, have shown a significant reduction in tumor size when hyperthermia is combined with other treatments. However, not all of these studies have shown increased survival in patients receiving the combined treatments.
The method used for hyperthermia at Dr. Jyl's Mobile Vet Connection is called Local hyperthermia.
- In local hyperthermia, heat is applied to a small area, such as a tumor, using a technique that delivers energy to heat the tumor. Depending on the tumor location, there are several approaches to local hyperthermia.
- External approaches are used to treat tumors that are in or just below the skin. External heat applications are positioned around or near the appropriate region, and energy is focused on the tumor to raise its temperature.
The effectiveness of hyperthermia treatment is related to the temperature achieved during the treatment, as well as the length of treatment and cell and tissue characteristics. To ensure the desired temperature is reached, but not exceeded, the temperature of the tumor and surrounding tissue is monitored throughout hyperthermia treatment.
Does hyperthermia have any complications or side effects?
Most normal tissues are not damaged during hyperthermia if the temperature remains under 111°F. However, due to regional differences in tissue characteristics, higher temperatures may occur in various spots and effects are temporary.
What does the future hold for hyperthermia?
A number of challenges must be overcome before hyperthermia can be considered a standard treatment for cancer. Many clinical trials are being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of hyperthermia. Some trials continue to research hyperthermia in combination with other therapies for the treatment of different cancers. Other studies focus on improving hyperthermia techniques.
Dr. Jyl Rubin DVM (916) 989-0738