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Hyperthermia as an effective cancer treatment
Hyperthermia as an effective alternative cancer treatment?

Hyperthermia is the use of heat to kill, weaken or sensitise cancer cells. It comes in two forms. Whole-body hyperthermia has been shown to improve the effectiveness of chemo and radiotherapy. It can also be used to kill cancer cells in its own right. Localised hyperthermia or Ablation can be used as a minimally-invasive alternative cancer treatment to treat a number of cancers in different forms. It can be very successful. It has already been used by hospitals in Europe and America to treat prostate cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer and others. Clinical studies have shown its abilities to treat bone metastases successfully too. This review looks at both localised hyperthermia and whole-body hyperthrmia.

Hyperthermia is the use of heat as a treatment for cancer. It may be used as either

          1. whole-body hyperthermia, or
          2. localised hyperthermia, where it may also be called Ablation, or Ablatherm.

The rationale for hyperthermia as an alternative cancer treatment is that heat is known to be one of the few things that can actually kill a cancer cell. At the right temperature, usually around 107 degrees (but sometimes as high as 113 degrees) cancer cells die, but there is no harm done to surrounding healthy tissue.

Whole-body hyperthermia

Total body hyperthermia as a concept is far from new. It was used by the Greeks and Egyptians. Studies in the 1920s at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center noted that some cancer patients went into remission when they developed a fever, just as the Greeks and Egyptians had said.

Go To: An article on the Background and development of hyperthermia in ´Some Like it Hot´

This led to the controlled use of dead bacteria (Coley´s Toxins) where the induced fever was shown to stimulate defences, whilst the heat effect killed the cancer cells. The hospital is still using heat in conjunction with chemotherapy in a treatment called HIPEC, hyperthermic intra-peritoneal chemotherapy, where temperatures of 107 degrees are used to presensitise cancer cells to the chemo.
There is research (Van der Zee J. et al, Annals of Oncology 2002, and, Hildebrandt et al, Critical reviews in oncology 2002) that shows the biochemical evidence for the potential of whole-body hyperthermia on its own, but there are newer important studies on its benefits with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Much is listed on the website of the National Cancer Institute. 

In Australia, cancer expert Dr. John Holt used whole-body Hyperthermia along with glutathione and cysteine to restrict glucose uptake by cancer cells. Hugely successful, he has sadly now retired. 

Go To: The pioneering hyperthermia work of Dr. John Holt

The National Cancer Institute on its website states that whole-body hyperthermia can kill cancer cells and improve the results of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Clinical trials on both are under way in America. One of its benefits is that it can be used to treat metastatic cancer.

Review: Whole-body Hyperthermia kills cancer cells

Localised hyperthermia, or Ablation, or Ablatherm

We find localised hyperthermia, ablation, or ablatherm much, much more interesting as a minimally invasive alternative cancer treatment. Indeed we have been championing it since 2005, despite skeptics and other charities criticising both us and the treatment. Our stance now been totally vindicated.

Localised ´heat´ can be provided by a variety of methods from ultrasound, to directly heating metal objects placed in the cancer to the use of a current of electricity between two needles, with or without a helping agent.
 
There are several, increasingly established ways localised Hyperthermia is being used:

1. Localised hyperthermia, an alternative to cancer surgery

i) HIFU, or, High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound - is hyperthermia induced by sound waves.

It has been used as an alternative to surgery in the treatment of prostate cancerkidney cancer, breast cancer and bone cancer.  However, its use with other cancers is creeping in to hospitals throughout the Western world. It is a hugely political issue. If you can melt cancer cells, who needs surgeons and expensive drugs? Also this work is vitally important, not least because there is a growing body of evidence that old-fashioned cancer surgery and even biopsies can spread cancer. 

Go To: Can Surgery Spread Cancer

We have been excited about HIFU and prostate cancer for over a decade and you can read more here: Prostate cancer and HIFU;

You can read here: an exclusive interview on HIFU and prostate cancer with Professor Mark Emberton.

ii) German clinics and localised hyperthermia
- The use of localised hyperthermia by clinics in Europe has progressed to a sophisticated level. Klinik St Georg in Germany for prostate cancer and hyperthermia uses a plastic tube with a small metal bar in the middle. Positioned in the centre of the prostate, just two sessions in 5 days kills the tumour. They claim a 100 per cent success rate, but only 75 per cent if the patient has had a biopsy. 

Localised Hyperthermia may be repeated should the cancer ever return.

There are over 60 clinics in Europe offering thev treatment privately. The only issue is price (around 6,000 euros in 2015), and the four people I have talked with recently including one of my best friends (who is now completely clear of his prostate cancer 4 years on) all thought the result delivered on their prostate cancer was excellent value for money.

Go To: Richard´s story of localised hyperthermia to treat prostate cancer,at Klinik St Georg.

iii) Breast cancer and localised hyperthermia - 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 either side of a solid breast cancer tumour, under local anaesthetic. All the women had had no recurrence in the following two years. Read more: breast cancer and localised hyperthermia. The Karolinska researchers were ecstatic. ´Women can have the treatment in their lunch time and go back to work´, said one.

However, the original three studies seem to have been removed from the Karolinska´s website. One possible explanation is this: 

The Nanoknife IRE - This technique, rather like the Karolinska´s uses two long needles to get inside the body - to treat inoperable cancers. A current is passed between the needles causing nano holes in the cancer cell membranes. All are destroyed. The ´inoperable cancers´ bit is clearly a ploy. 20 hospitals in the USA are already using the patented treatment - it will not be long before it is used on any defined tumour deep seated or not, and is a real alternative cancer therapy of potential. Go to: A review of the Nanoknife IRE. At CANCERactive we have had patients who used it successfully for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

iv) Kidney cancer and localised hyperthermia - 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 Guy´s 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.

2. Localised Hyperthermia for secondary bone metastases

In 2016 HIFU has seen the results of a major research study where bone metastases successfully treatment with ultrasound hyperthermia at the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK.  Secondary metastases were ´blasted´ by ultrasound, literally melting all the cancer cells away without harming the healthy cells´. HIFU has now been described by Professor Gail ter Haar at the ICR as a treatment of ´Immense Potential´ for any cancer´.

Hyperthermia - the CANCERactive view

Localised Ablation is in its early days, but the work of Professor Emberton with prostate cancer, Andy Adam with kidney cancer, The Karolinska with breast cancer and the Institute of Cancer Research with bone metastases 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.

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. The Nanoknife may just be the straw that breaks the camel´s back, and bring a simple, safe and quick treatment to the masses.

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.

Whole-body hyperthermia is a completely different ball game. Clearly hyperthermia can weaken or sensitise cancer cells so that radiotherapy or chemotherapy can give much better results. It also means less chemotherapy with hyperthermia could achieve the same results as chemo without hyperthermia. There is also evidence that hyperthermia on its own can kill cancer cells.


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