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Chris Woolmams
Hyperthermia and cancer
What is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is the use of heat as a treatment for cancer. It may be used as either an all-over-body treatment, or as a localised treatment where it may also be called Ablation, or Ablatherm. The rationale for this alternative cancer treatment is that heat is known to be one of the few things that can actually kill a cancer cell. No harm is done to surrounding healthy tissue.

Hyperthermia as a concept is far from new. Early studies noted that some cancer patients went into remission when they developed a fever; this led to the  controlled use of dead bacteria (e.g. Coley´s Toxins) where the induced fever was shown to stimulate defences, whilst the heat effect killed the cancer cells. Nowadays, in the various forms of hyperthermia, heat can be provided in controlled conditions to the whole body, or even by foods such as chilli peppers according to a recent report from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas!!

Or it can be created locally (depending upon the actual treatment programme) by a variety of methods from electrodes or ultrasound, with or without a helping agent.
In this section you can read the background to hyperthermia treatment, in an article entitled ´Some Like it Hot´ (CLICK HERE).

You can also read about the pioneering work of Dr John Holt in Australia (CLICK HERE). 

Increasingly Proven Treatments

Prostate cancer

Importantly, you can also read about HIFU - High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound - which is hyperthermia induced by sound waves. It is used as an alternative to surgery in the treatment of some kidney cancers and bone cancers, but the exciting development is its use by numerous centres (including UCL in London and MD Anderson in America), as an alternative cancer treatment for prostate cancer. Unlike surgery, the side effects are minimal. This work is only just being established in the UK; at CANCERactive, uniquely in the UK amongst cancer charities, we have been championing it and providing research information and detailed briefings since 2003.

To read about HIFU CLICK HERE; to read an exclusive interview with Professor Mark Emberton on the use of HIFU as an alternative to prostate cancer surgery CLICK HERE.

Breast cancer

In late 2011 more great news came with a report of three studies from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Over 80 women had been successfully treated using Ablation - this time, a ten minute localised treatment involving the application of electrodes around solid breast cancer tumours, under local anaesthetic. All the women had had no recurrence in the following two years. To find out more CLICK HERE

This work is vitally important, not least because there is a growing body of evidence that old-fashioned surgery can spread cancer. (See ´Can Surgery Spread Cancer?´ by CLICKING HERE.)

Kidney cancer

Localised hyperthermia is already used to treat other cancers in UK hospitals (although not as extensively as its use in America). For example Professor Andy Adam at Guys and St Thomas´ Hospital, who uses it on kidney tumours. The technique is only used when surgery cannot be used, since in wonderful "catch 22" fashion, there are quite large numbers of kidney surgeries and hence data on survival rates, but little knowledge of survival for ablation.

Private Clinics

There are some 60 or more centres across Europe using a form of localised hyperthermia to treat cancers. Of course, skeptics claim they are charlatans, charging high prices for bogus treatment. But having read the reports from patients coming out of Klinik St George in Germany, I think the only issue is price, and the four people I have talked with recently all thought the result delivered on their prostate cancer was excellent value for money.

Our Bottom Line

Ablatherm is in its early days, but the work of Professor Emberton with prostate cancer, Andy Adam with kidney cancer and The Karolinska with breast cancer show the true potential of this genuine ´alternative´ cancer therapy.

We are genuinely excited about this area. To my mind (Chris Woollams) this is a non-invasive, quick, potential cure for cancer.

Curiously, the Karolinska findings on breast cancer seem to have disappeared from the public eye on Google Search. One wonders why? And at this point I worry for ´localised hyperthermia´. Despite ten years of research across Europe and in the UK, it is having a hard job getting ´Accepted´. Rigorous Clinical Trials are not the issue - the ´Cyberknife´ was ´accepted´ (indeed rushed in) by hospitals long before any real proof of claims to be more effective with less side-effects.

Ablatherm or localised hyperthermia seems full of potential, the research is gaining ground, but in the UK, cancer patients still find orthodox medicine putting the shutters up.

Not so in the USA. While trials on Ablatherm and HIFU barely got off the ground, a new form of treatment called the Nanoknife (IRE) is catching everyone´s attention. Not a knife and hardly nano, it does roughly the same job as localised hyperthermia but without the heat. Electric probes (rather like those used at the Karolinska) kill off the cancer cells. It already has FDA approval, although no clinical trials. And it is already used in about 30 US hospitals. Of course, it´s a patented process. 

We don´t mind. There´s potential here for an effective, non-invasive cancer cure that will trump all the drugs and radiotherapy. Bring it on.

 At last - the definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.

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