Hyperthermia: A Unique Approach to Cancer Management Technology and Treatment Center


Hyperthermia is a type of medical treatment wherein the body tissues are exposed to higher temperatures (up to 113°F), which can kill or damage cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy tissues. It is also called thermotherapy, thermal therapy, or thermal ablation

Hyperthermia is also used to make cancer cells more sensitive to other treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Hyperthermia in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy is found to be effective for cancers of the head and neck region, prostate, breast, cervix, and rectum, along with melanoma and soft tissue sarcoma.

There are different types of hyperthermia, namely local hyperthermia, regional hyperthermia, and whole-body hyperthermia. Local and regional hyperthermia help in destroying cancer cells in the specific organ, whereas whole-body hyperthermia is still being studied for its efficacy and safety against cancer.

How Does Hyperthermia Work?

Hyperthermia primarily works by destroying cancer cells and making them sensitive to other cancer treatments. The following are the key mechanisms by which hyperthermia acts on cancer cells:

  • Disrupting the mechanism of DNA repair in cancer cells
  • Stimulating the immune system to attack the cancer cells.
  • Increasing blood flow improves tissue oxygenation, which makes the cancer cells more susceptible to other treatments like radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
  • Causing vascular damage, which affects the sustainability of cancer cells.
  • Triggering the synthesis of certain chemicals, such as heat-shock proteins, which can make cancer cells sensitive.

Hyperthermia is induced through various means, such as radio waves, lasers, ultrasound, heating fluids, namely blood and chemotherapy drugs, and lastly, subjecting the entire body to heat via heated chambers, hot water baths, and heated blankets.

This is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require general anesthesia

During the procedure, the doctor may numb the target area by inserting small probes with tiny thermometers into the tumor. These thermometers help keep a close eye on the temperature of the tumor and the surrounding tissues throughout the session. Imaging methods, like CT scans, are used to ensure that the probes are placed in the right place.

The treatment duration may vary from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Advantages of Hyperthermia Treatment

Hyperthermia, when coupled with radiation therapy, can cause damage to the acidic, poorly oxygenated parts of the tumor and stop the growth.

It makes the overall treatment more effective and increases the chances of positive outcomes.

Hyperthermia boosts the effect of certain anti-cancer drugs.

Hyperthermia, when combined with radiation and chemotherapy, can shrink tumors.

Hyperthermia helps reduce the damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Common side effects associated with hyperthermia (local and regional) include pain at the site, blood clots, bleeding, swelling, blistering, burns, damage to the skin, nerves, and muscles in the treated area, and infection.

No, hyperthermia is not a cure for cancer. However, when used in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, hyperthermia can improve the effectiveness of the overall treatment.

Your treating doctor will carefully go through your reports, study your condition thoroughly, and only recommend hyperthermia if that is the right treatment choice for you.

No, there is no evidence that heat causes cancer to grow or spread. On the other hand, many studies have shown that heat treatment or thermal treatment can increase the efficacy of cancer treatments by making cancer cells more sensitive to radiation and anti-cancer drugs.

Several studies have reported that local and regional hyperthermia can make radiation therapy and chemotherapy work better by affecting the cancer cell’s ability to divide and making them sensitive to these treatments. It has also been found that hyperthermia can shrink tumors and eventually increase the chances of successful cancer treatment.