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What are the Different Types of Hyperthermia Treatment?

By M.R. Anglin
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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Hyperthermia treatment in the realm of cancer treatment can be administered in three ways: regional, local, and whole body. Whole body treatments involve raising the temperature of the entire person, excluding the head. Regional therapy heats a section of a body, such as an arm or leg. Local hyperthermia treatments heat a small area of the body, such as a tumor, in order to destroy cancer cells. The heat can make cancer treatments more effective, so hyperthermia treatments are often used in conjunction with remedies like chemotherapy and radiation.

Whole body hyperthermia treatments can be used to treat cases of metastatic cancer, or cancer that has spread throughout the body. In this instance, the body temperature is raised to 107 – 108°F (about 41.67 – 42.2°C). The elevated temperatures can not only make cancer cells more prone to destruction by chemotherapy, but may also help to stimulate an immune response. To elevate the body temperature, a doctor may use different techniques such as immersing the patient in warm water, using warm-water blankets, putting him in a thermal chamber, and using inductive coils. The side-effects of this treatment may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Regional hyperthermia treatment is used when a doctor wants to elevate the temperature of a section of the body. These sections can include an arm, a leg, an organ, or a cavity within the body. There are three different techniques used in this form of hyperthermia treatment: deep tissue, regional perfusion, and continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion (CHPP). The deep tissue treatment uses applicators placed outside of the cavity, organ, or body part to be heated. Then different types of energy, such as microwaves or radiofrequencies, are sent into the tissues to raise the temperature.

Regional perfusion involves the use of an external machine to heat blood. The blood is pumped out of the patient’s body, heated in a machine, and then pumped back into the body. Chemotherapy drugs may also be added to the blood. Continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion is similar to regional perfusion. Instead of blood being heated, however, it is the chemotherapy drugs that are heated and pumped into the peritoneal cavity — the cavity that contains the digestive organs.

The last of the different types of hyperthermia treatment is local hyperthermia. There are three forms of local hyperthermia treatment: external, intraluminal or endocavitary, and interstitial. The external technique is used when the tumor is located near or inside of skin. A doctor can place applicators on the skin over the tumor. Then, energy is sent into the tumor in order to raise its temperature.

When the tumor is in or around a cavity, for example in the rectum, intraluminal treatment can be used. In this form of hyperthermia treatment, a probe is placed within the tumor itself. Then energy, such as microwaves, radiofrequencies, or ultrasound, is sent straight into the tumor to raise its temperature. Interstitial hyperthermia is similar to intraluminal in that a probe is placed into a tumor and energy is sent through it. The difference is that interstitial hyperthermia is used to treat tumors that are located deep within the body.

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