Hyperthermia treatment is an emerging cancer treatment that uses high temperatures to kill cancer cells. When combined with other cancer treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy, outcomes have been promising.
The survival rates for many types of cancer continue to improve largely due to improvements in detection and treatment. Cancer remains the
Hyperthermia is emerging as a promising cancer treatment for many types of cancers. It involves heating tissues to temperatures up to
Hyperthermia is currently only available at a small number of treatment centers in the United States and is usually performed in combination with traditional cancer treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of hyperthermia for treating cancer and what you can expect during the procedure.
Hyperthermia is a cancer treatment that involves heating your tissues to temperatures up to
Very high temperatures can damage or kill cancer cells while leaving noncancerous cells relatively healthy. It can also make cancer cells
In clinical trials, researchers found that temperatures of 106°F to 111°F (
The idea of using heat to treat cancer isn’t new.
The modern history of using heat to treat cancer dates back to the
Since then, researchers have developed various ways to heat cancer cells to specific temperatures. These include:
- placing your whole body in a heated chamber, hot water bath, or heated blankets
perfusion, where a sample of your blood is heated and put back inside your body
lasers radio waves probes using microwaves
According to the
It has also
- gene therapy
Hyperthermia in the range of 102°F to 109°F (39°C to 43°C) is under investigation for treating
|Local treatment (heat applied to a small area)||Regional treatment (heat applied to an entire cavity, organ, or limb)|
|breast cancer||cervical cancer|
|soft tissue sarcoma||bladder cancer|
|head and neck cancer||ovarian cancer|
|soft tissue sarcoma|
|primary peritoneal carcinoma|
There are three types of hyperthermia treatment: local, regional, and whole body.
Local hyperthermia is used to heat a small part of your body. Types of
- External hyperthermia: A device is placed on your skin that heats the area around the cancer.
- Intraluminal (endocavitary hyperthermia): A probe that creates heat is placed inside a tumor in a cavity like your rectum or esophagus.
- Interstitial hyperthermia: A doctor inserts heated probes or needles in your tumor while you’re asleep with general anesthesia. It’s used to treat deep tumors such as those in your brain that may require higher temperatures.
Regional hyperthermia is when doctors heat larger parts of your body like an entire cavity, limb, or organ. Techniques include:
- Deep tissue techniques: Heated devices are placed around an organ or cavity. This technique is used to treat cancers such as cervical cancer or bladder cancer.
- Regional perfusion: Some of your blood is removed, heated, and pumped back into the affected limb or organ. You may also receive chemotherapy during the treatment.
- Continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion: This treatment is used to treat cancer in the space in your abdomen that contains your liver, stomach, and intestines. Heated chemotherapy drugs are pumped into this space to raise the temperature from 106°F to 108°F (41°C to 42°C).
Whole body hyperthermia
Whole body hyperthermia is used to treat cancer that has spread throughout your body. It involves raising the temperature of your whole body by getting in a hot bath, wrapping yourself in hot blankets, or entering a special chamber.
At this time, only a small number of hospitals and cancer centers in the U.S. have the technology and staff available to perform hyperthermia treatment. The exact procedure depends on the type of treatment you receive.
For example, if you’re receiving treatment in a small area, a doctor numbs the treatment area and inserts small probes with tiny thermometers into the tumor. The thermometers allow the doctor to check the temperature during treatment. Imaging techniques such as CT scans may be used to make sure the probes are in the right spot.
Typically, a temperature of 104°F to 109°F (40°C to 43°C) is applied for about
Many clinical trials have used hyperthermia treatment
You may receive hyperthermia treatment before or after other cancer treatments. You can usually go home the same day unless you’re also having surgery.
Hyperthermia treatment mostly preserves healthy tissue. However high temperatures against your tissues can cause
Perfusion, where your blood is removed and heated, can cause:
- blood clots
- damage to healthy tissue
Common side effects of whole-body hyperthermia include:
More rarely, it can cause heart and blood vessel problems.
Hyperthermia treatment is especially effective for parts of the tumor that don’t receive much oxygen or nutrients.
Researchers are continuing to examine the effectiveness of hyperthermia in treating various types of cancers. They’ve found promising outcomes when combined with other standard treatments.
For example, a 2020
More research is needed to understand hyperthermia’s role in cancer treatment. For now, it’s still largely considered experimental.
Its effectiveness has been evaluated in
- head and neck cancers
- breast cancer
- cervical cancers
Many insurance providers provide coverage for hyperthermia treatment in certain circumstances. It’s important to check with your insurance provider before you start treatment.
Local hyperthermia is covered under Medicare when used together with radiation therapy for treating:
- primary cutaneous (skin) or subcutaneous (under the skin) cancers
- metastatic (spread from other distant body parts) cutaneous or subcutaneous cancers
Medicare doesn’t cover hyperthermia alone or with chemotherapy.
The private insurance provider Aetna considers hyperthermia treatment medically necessary in six cases:
- combined with surgery to treat pseudomyxoma peritonei
- combined with surgery to treat peritoneal mesothelioma
- combined with surgery to treat goblet cell carcinoid tumors
- combined with cisplatin for stage III ovarian cancer
- for stage II, IIIA, and stage III in-transit melanoma of the limbs
- combined with sequential radiation for treating subcutaneous superficial cancers
Without insurance, hyperthermia treatment can run thousands of dollars. In a
Hyperthermia treatment is an emerging cancer treatment that involves heating cancer cells to temperatures up to 113°F (45°C).
Research suggests that it might be an effective treatment for many different cancers when combined with other treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy. For now, it’s only available at a small number of cancer centers in the U.S. and is still largely considered experimental.
Your cancer care team can help you decide whether you might benefit from hyperthermia treatment. You can also search for clinical trials on the