Deep tissue hyperthermia uses heat with radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat pelvic or abdominal region tumors.
For example, when used on some cervical cancer patients who aren’t able to receive chemotherapy, deep tissue hyperthermia combined with radiation therapy may be a promising treatment option.
Prior to this procedure, a CT scan is performed to locate the tumor. During the deep tissue hyperthermia treatment, temperature probes are placed both externally and internally to accurately monitor temperatures during the treatment.
A water-filled applicator bladder (called a bolus) is then placed over the patient’s torso and focused electromagnetic energy (radio frequency energy) is directed at the tumor, exposing the tumor to a temperature of above 104°F or 40°C. The heating effect is monitored and can be turned down if it becomes too hot. It immediately stops when the equipment is turned off.
Deep tissue hyperthermia dilates blood vessels around the tumor, causing oxygen-carrying red blood cells to spread into the tumor.
When the patient is later exposed to radiation treatment, the radiation reacts with the high levels of oxygen in the tumor, potentially destroying the tumor cells. Or if the patient receives chemotherapy after deep tissue hyperthermia, it can increase the flow of blood to the tumor area, potentially bringing more chemotherapy to the tumor.
The deep tissue hyperthermia treatment can take up to two hours and is typically performed twice a week for the duration of the radiation or chemotherapy treatment. When radiation is done prior to the hyperthermia that the hyperthermia inhibits DNA repair from the radiation damage to the tumor cells.