Loco-regional hyperthermia

Microwave and radiofrequency deep hyperthermia, also known as “local hyperthermia”, has a targeted effect in the primary tumour or its  metastases. The tumor tissue is heated and warmed up from the outside, whereby the surrounding healthy tissue is not damaged by the heat and temperature.

History of Hyperthermia Therapy

The use of heat for therapeutic purposes dates back to ancient times, but the use of heat to treat cancer dates back to the 19th century when a German doctor (Bush) described the spontaneous remission of a histologically documented sarcoma of the face after fever caused by erysipelas.

Subsequent attempts were then made in France and various European countries to use toxins for treatment. But is was Dr. WB Coley who is considered as a mother and father of cancer immunotherapy; he demonstrated the effectiveness of fever treatment in thousands of patients affected by various malignant tumors who were incurable with the therapies of the time.

After the Second World War, the development of a new method of heating tissue, which is physical and based on water-filtered infrared, microwave and radio frequencies, begins.

Hyperthermia became an independent science.

Using hyperthermia to treat cancer requires collaboration between various professionals such as oncologists, radiation therapists, surgeons, general practitioners, immunologists, medical physicists, engineers and other professionals who help the doctor treat the patient, especially the radiology technician and, last but not least, the nurse.

The effect on the tumor cell

Through intensive thermobiological basic research, which has been carried out since the 1970s, we now know that temperatures from 40.5 ° C can have a cytotoxic effect in malignant tissues, ie. have a cell-killing or growth-inhibiting effect on tumors and their spread.

The technique of loco-regional deep hyperthermia heats the tumor cells by means of high-frequency waves, which leads to a lack of oxygen and the development of an intracellular acidic environment, as well as a depletion of nutrients in the tumor. This significantly disrupts the cell metabolism, so that this can ultimately lead to the death of the cancer cell (apoptosis/necrosis). 

The higher heat sensitivity of tumor cells depends in part on their genetic properties and the microbiological environment in which the cell is located. What is known as “apoptosis” occurs when a cell is damaged and cannot be repaired you you. If the cell is damaged and can no longer perceive the signal for death, the cell continues to multiply, which ultimately results in the tumor tissue. In a natural organism, the number of cells should be the same. Means that homeoastasis, i.e. equilibrium, is constantly maintained. The relationship between mitosis (cell proliferation) and cell extinction (apoptosis) is balanced.

Another effect of hyperthermia is the clear activation of the body’s immune system. The heat changes the cancer cells so that they can be better differentiated from healthy tissue. 

This is what so-called “heat shock proteins” are responsible for, which act as identifiers for the immune cells. When overheated, these proteins appear on the surfaces of tumor cells, but not on “healthy” cells. We use devices from BSD, Synchrotherm, Oncotherm for locoregional hyperthermia and devices from von Ardenneand Heckel  for whole-body hyperthermia. Experience has shown that local deep as well as whole body hyperthermia is very well tolerated by elderly or weakened people. Often, hyperthermia is combined with standard therapies.

Most chemotherapy drugs may be more effective at the same dose or have the same effectiveness at lower doses when given in combination with hyperthermia techniques.

The resulting benefit is an increase in the activity of other therapies (immunological, chemical, radiative, surgical) to achieve the best therapeutic result.

Local regional radiofrequency and microwave hyperthermia in many cases will be applied to superficial and deep seated tumors in order to induce direct tumor cell killing, induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death), reduce interstitial tissue pressures of tumors in order to better perfuse those tissues with chemotherapy and/or immunogenic messengers and immune cells, and most importantly to induce the induction of so-called heat shock proteins (hsp) which render cancer cells more sensitive to be detected by the immune system. 

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