What is hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is based on an artificial increase in temperature in the area of the respective tumor. Temperatures of up to a maximum of 43 degrees Celsius are generated. The resulting improved blood supply to the tumor tissue leads to significantly improved efficacy of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.
Use for which tumors?
In patients with locally advanced cervical carcinoma, the combination of loco-regional deep hyperthermia and radiotherapy significantly improved overall survival. Currently, hyperthermia is also used for various other forms of cancer, such as prostate carcinoma, pancreatic carcinoma and anal carcinoma.
Where can you have hyperthermia treatment in Munich?
We currently offer surface hyperthermia at our Schwabing location. Our team of specialists there works with the attending physicians to develop a treatment plan and coordinate it with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
What are the types and differences?
Hyperthermia differs into several types:
- Whole body hyperthermia
- Loco-regional deep hyperthermia
- Regional surface hyperthermia
In all variants, the body or a specific area of the body is overheated by infrared radiation. During whole-body hyperthermia, an artificial fever between 39.5° Celsius and 40.5° Celsius is generated. Loco-regional deep hyperthermia, as well as the surface hyperthermia we use, warms the tumor tissue directly up to a maximum of 43° Celsius.
Why do high temperatures help?
Heat can kill cells – but this only happens above about 43°C. Thus, heat has a positive effect directly in the area of the tumor. But hyperthermia actually becomes effective through the increase in blood flow within the tumor. On the one hand, the effectiveness of radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be improved by better blood flow in the corresponding area. On the other hand, at elevated temperatures, tumor cells have less success in “recovering” from therapy. One speaks of the radiation and chemosensitizing effect.
Fields of application of hyperthermia
Especially in the case of superficial tumours – up to two centimetres below the skin – the innovative and gentle therapeutic approach of hyperthermia enables effective treatment. With only one treatment a week, over a total of five weeks, excellent results are achieved. However, this gentle combination of weekly surface hyperthermia followed by radiotherapy is currently only offered at a few centers in Germany.
Procedure of hyperthermia therapy
After the individual planning of the radiotherapy by our specialists, the “normal” temperature distributions in the patient’s body are measured and calculated. Using various digital systems, the optimal setting for the targeted heating of the tumour can be planned.
At the beginning, measuring probes are inserted into the tumour site or placed as close as possible to the tumour site in order to be able to control the temperature as best as possible during the hyperthermia treatment
How does the temperature measurement work?
For tumours close to the skin, we measure the temperature directly on the skin surface. For cancerous lesions further inside the body, we use the natural orifices. In rare cases, it may be necessary to insert an invasive probe.
After preparation, the patient is placed under the applicator for loco-regional deep hyperthermia. The antennas inside the applicator emit electromagnetic waves and thus generate the necessary heat in the body.
After a warm-up time of about 30 minutes, the actual therapy takes about an hour.
What side effects may occur?
Hyperthermia is generally a highly tolerable therapy. Serious side effects are not known. Mild side effects may include mild overheating pain and minor burns. However, these will be taken care of by our medical assistants directly after the treatment, should they occur.
Rarely, redness of the skin or water retention in the tissues occur. Even rarer are so-called fat tissue necroses, which usually heal without consequences.