What is Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is a non-invasive, non-toxic treatment which induces a controlled feverish state in the body with temperatures ranging up to 40 degrees celsius.
Knowledge of the benefits of heat treatments date back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, as well as ancient civilizations in India, China and Scandinavia.
This treatment raises the body temperature like a fever. This helps to enhance the activity of the immune system and may also improve performance of some drugs by increasing cellular uptake.
Our practice uses the latest whole body hyperthermia machine from Heckel in Germany.
In-depth specialized knowledge in the fields of technology and (clinical) research on water-filtered infrared-A-radiation (Hydrosun) is combined with many years of technical and clinical know-how in whole-body hyperthermia.
The machine used is the Heckel HT3000 which is the evolution of designs developed since 1986 by the late Dr Martin Heckel and now used widely in 15 countries around the world such as UK, Germany, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic , Russia, Poland, Malaysia, Japan, China, Korea and Turkey.
- This machine uses water filtered infra-red A spectrum light to heat the body without harming the skin using the most efficient wavelength of light for warming without burning.
- During this therapy, patients are sometimes given medicines to make them calm whilst remaining awake.
What does it do?
Whole Body Hyperthermia
On a cellular level the feverish state stimulates release of heat-shock proteins, boosting the body’s immune defence.
This benefit has been known since ancient times, but now with controlled whole body hyperthermia treatment we use advanced state-of-the-art technology which can artificially create this desired immune system boost without feeling unwell.
This use of the body’s natural mechanism to reclaim and enhance a healthy state can be applied to aid recovery or treatment of a number of conditions.
It is particularly advantageous for patients suffering from chronic conditions or malignant processes.
Benefits of Hyperthermia
- Enhances immune response
- Decreases inflammation
- Decreases pain
- Enhances IV therapy
- Stimulates self-healing
- Increases blood flow, doubling perfusion in tumours
- Enhances the delivery of medications
- Increases oxygen to the tumour making radiation therapy more effective
- Promotes repair and regenerative processes in each individual cell
- Agitation or anxiety
Medications can be given to control these side effects or the rate of increase in body temperature can be slowed or interrupted.
During hypethermia treatments, some tissues such as scars may become very hot being denser. This can be avoided by careful management but very rarely lead to discomfort or pains, minor burns and blisters.
What it is used for?
Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) and the immune system.The immune system has evolved to take advantage of the ability of HSPs to act as ‘danger signals’, thus allowing the generation of an amplified immune response. HSPs released from stressed or dying cells activate dendritic cells (DCs), transforming them into mature cells potentiating immune recognition of antigens.
Mature DCs can program lymphocyte effector cells in an antigen-restricted manner, thus limiting collateral damage to normal healthy tissues.The HSPs can potentially broaden the spectrum of the immune response.
By raising the patient’s body temperature as though they have a fever, this treatment helps chemotherapy work better to treat cancer that has spread (metastasized).
Fever-range hyperthermia can also induce heat shock proteins. Hyperthermia uses heat to damage and kill cancer cells without harming normal cells
References to research on whole body hyperthermia in modern medical literature date back to 1950 but the principle of fever temperature aiding in disease healing was mentioned in ancient Greek, Chinese and Egyptian medical writings.
In theory, fever-range hyperthermia may take advantage of tumor cell heat shock proteins by inducing their release from tumor cells and improving dendritic cell priming against tumor antigens.It has also been reported that hyperthermia alone can enhance antigen display by tumor cells, thus rendering them even more susceptible to programmed immune clearance.
Thus Hyperthermia treatment is used as an immune modulator for cancer patients
Hyperthermia treatment has become a mainstream form of adjunctive therapy in many countries in Europe and Asia. It is not used as a sole therapy and is not a cure for cancer. It is usually combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, intravenous therapy or other therapies in varying combinations.
Hyperthermia achieves an increase of the temperature in the extracellular liquid of the tumour tissue that leads to a destabilizing thermal stress on the membrane of the tumour cells, accelerating decline in the life cycle of cancerous cells (apoptosis).
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 hours of each other. Hyperthermia treatment is most effective when provided within 4 to 24 hours of the radiation.
Numerous clinical trials have studied hyperthermia in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. These studies have reviewed the treatment of many types of cancer, including: sarcoma, melanoma, and cancers of the head and neck, brain, lung, esophagus, breast, bladder, rectum, liver, appendix, cervix, and peritoneal lining (mesothelioma). Many of these studies, but not all, have shown a significant reduction in tumor size when hyperthermia is combined with other treatments.
The Efficacy of Hyperthermia
The efficacy of hyperthermia treatment is related to the temperature achieved during the treatment, as well as the length of treatment and cell and tissue characteristics.When combined with radiation, hyperthermia is particularly effective at increasing the damage to acidic, poorly oxygenated parts of a tumor, and cells that are preparing to divide.
Whole body hyperthermia is an effective supportive and adjunctive treatment more for widespread (i.e. metastatic) cancers, than other types of cancers.