Hyperthermia therapy is a treatment used in battling cancer by heating tumors. The heating is about as warm as a hot tub. Research has shown that heat can damage or kill cancer cells in some tumors while also making radiation therapy more effective in treating certain tumors that are recurrent or progressive despite conventional therapy.
While it has been known for hundreds of years that fevers can kill cancer, only recently has technology been developed that can control and focus heat specifically on tumors. This technology is found in BSD’s line of Hyperthermia Systems.
The BSD-500 Hyperthermia System has been approved by the FDA for use alone or in conjunction with radiation therapy in the palliative management of certain solid surface and subsurface malignant tumors (i.e., melanoma, squamous- or basal-cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, or sarcoma) that are progressive or recurrent despite conventional therapy.
The BSD-2000 Hyperthermia System has received Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) approval for use in conjunction with radiation therapy for the treatment of cervical cancer. Normally, patients who would be treated with combined chemotherapy and radiation, but are ineligible for chemotherapy due to patient related factors.
Clinical studies using BSD's local hyperthermia systems (BSD-500) in conjunction with radiation therapy have shown that 83.7% of patients had some tumor regression (reduction), 37.4% of patients had a complete tumor regression and 24.5% had a greater than 50% tumor regression.
A Phase III randomized study was conducted at Erasmus Medical Center – Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center (DHCC), Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to compare hyperthermia (HT), delivered using the BSD-2000, and radiation (RT) to RT only treatment of 65 advanced cervical cancer patients, referred to as the BSD Intent-to-Treat (“BSD ITT”) population. 33 patients were randomized into RT combined with HT and 32 were randomized into RT alone. All patients had prognostic indicators that are associated with a poorer outcome for cervical cancer. The study met its primary endpoint of a 20% increase in complete response rates for cervical cancer patients receiving HT and RT as compared to RT alone. (Complete response [CR] was defined as disappearance of all viable tumor in the irradiated volume.) These data were a subset of the Deep Dutch Hyperthermia Trial data that were published in The Lancet. (Van der Zee J, Gonzalez-Gonzalez D, Van Rhoon GC, et al. Comparison of radiotherapy alone with radiotherapy plus hyperthermia in locally advanced pelvic tumours: a prospective, randomised, multicentre trial. Lancet 2000;355:1119-1125.)
Medical facilities offering hyperthermia treatment can be found across the United States, as well as internationally. Always consult with your physician regarding any treatment, including hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia therapy in conjunction with chemotherapy is investigational in the U.S. and can only be given under a clinical study protocol approved by the FDA.
The Science behind Hyperthermia
Using focused radiofrequency or microwave energy, the tumor is heated to approximately 108°F. Heat can kill cancer cells at levels that are usually safe for normal cells, and can be used to attack cancer in four major ways.
First, heat kills or weakens the cells of the tumor. Second, heat increases blood flow through the weakened tumor, which can allow therapies to permeate the tumor, not just attack it from the outside. Third, increased blood flow raises oxygen levels in tumors so that the cancer can be more effectively treated by radiation therapy. Fourth, when the body senses fever it stimulates the natural immune system, attacking the cancerous cells. For these reasons, hyperthermia is usually used in combination with radiation therapy.
A Brighter Future
The results inspire hope. When coupled with existing treatments, studies show that, for some tumors, hyperthermia therapy may double the success rate when compared to using radiation therapy alone.*
*Journal of Clinical Oncology, Jones, et. al. May 1, 2005
BSD Medical Corporation 2188 West 2200 South Salt Lake City, UT 84119-1326 P: (801) 972 5555 F: (801) 972 5930