My father died 23 years ago today from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was 59. He did not drink or smoke and seemed to live a life in general good health. His illness and death caught the family off guard.
Cancer does that. It hides from us, it steals from us. I reflect on how much his cancer took away from my family. His grandchildren, all graduated from college now, lived their life without his presence. His friends, neighbors, co-workers, customers, lived their lives void of the help, wisdom and passion that he had to share.
The anniversary of is death stirred me to visit the NIH (National Institutes of Heath) PubMed website and type “hyperthermia” and “non-hodgkins lymphoma” into the search bar. Two studies popped up showing positive clinical response treating with hyperthermia back in 1996. study 1 study 2
I was surprised at the result. Part of me reflected, “maybe the doctors could have done more”, or “did I miss an opportunity to find a better treatment”. I take a bit of solace that in 1992, our “great age of information” was still six years away. Google search did not exist.
Now, there is certainly no excuse to be uninformed. If you, your family member or friend have cancer, search “hyperthermia cancer”. You don’t have to be an advocate, just be informed. Find out what the research says about how hyperthermia benefits cancer therapies. If you have your own story about hyperthermia, please share it.
Surviving cancer is not just about you. It is about those of us left behind.
Our immune system has mechanisms in place for detecting and destroying cancer cells. A form of a triggered self-destruct instruction set that tells the cell to stop duplicating and disassemble itself into reusable components.
So, if we know the body can fight off disease and infection, why does it allow cancer cells to survive and grow?
The simplest explanation is that the immune system does not see these rogue cells. The cancerous tumor uses the biological equivalent of a Jedi mind trick to mask themselves from the immune system. “These are not the cancer cells you are looking for”. The culprit, according to the researchers at National Jewish Health, is a lipid secreted by the cancer tumor called LPA (lsyophosphatidic acid). LPA binds to receptors in cancer killing T cells and makes the tumor invisible.
What if we could make all cancer cells visible to the body’s immune system?
That is what researchers want to do, and they may have found a solution in hyperthermia. It has been shown that when tumor cells are heated up to “fever temperature” (around 41-43˚ C) using hyperthermia, the tumor cells essentially light up to the body’s anti-tumor immune response. It is also believed that once a specific type of cancer cell is identified to the immune system, that information is telegraphed through the body revealing and attacking those cancer cells growing elsewhere. So treating a cancer in one part of the body may trigger an immune response everywhere.
Read more about “Immune modulation induced by hyperthermia” in the article Local hyperthermia combined with radiotherapy and-/or chemotherapy: Recent advances and promises for the future by N.R. Datta (et al) in the recent issue of Cancer Treatment Reviews http://www.cancertreatmentreviews.com/article/S0305-7372%2815%2900104-8/abstract?cc=y=
It may not be nano-robots yet, but hyperthermia triggered smart release drugs are definitely here to stay. Celsion, maker of the chemotherapy drug ThermoDox, announced data from its Phase 2 DIGNITY trial for recurrent chest wall (RCW) breast cancer. The early results, available from their recent press release, show that every patient in the trial experienced a clinical benefit.
ThermoDox is one of several heat-activated nanoparticle liposomal encapsulated drugs arriving on the market. Like traditional chemotherapy, the encapsulated drug is delivered through the blood stream to all parts of the body. The difference is that drug is only released when it reaches the tumor and nowhere else. It does this using a hyperthermic response mechanism. Patients receive localized hyperthermia treatments to heat the tumor to 42˚C (108˚F). The hyperthermia treatment begins to shrink and sensitizes the tumor to chemotherapy. When the drug reaches the “thermal zone” (40˚C or greater), it opens up the encapsulation releasing the chemo on target.
Doing this not only makes sure that enough therapeutic drug gets delivered to the cancer, but also protects the rest of the body from the harmful side effects of traditional chemotherapy delivery. The remainder of the unused drugs gets flushed through the body naturally. I have linked the Celsion webpage that has a great video demonstrating the process.
At it’s annual scientific meeting in Zurich, Switzerland June 24-26, 2015, the European Society of Hyperthermic Oncology (ESHO) bestowed its highest honor, the 30th annual ESHO-Pyrexar Award, on Jan Vrba, PhD. Dr. Vrba is Professor and Chairman, Department of Electromagnetic Fields, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University (CTU), Prague. The ESHO-Pyrexar Award is awarded annually for outstanding contributions to hyperthermic oncology, education and scientific achievement. Prof. Vrba received his PhD in Communications Technology from the CTU in 1976. He rose through the academic ranks to become full professor and department chairman in 1993, the position he still holds. He has held many prestigious academic appointments at the CTU including membership on the Scientific Board 1994-97, serving as Vice-Rector from 1994-97 and as Chancellor from 2000-2002.
Prof. Vrba’s research efforts have concentrated on the interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological systems most notably the medical application of microwaves, specifically the design of microwave applicators for inducing hyperthermia for cancer treatment.Prof. Vrba has published well over 100 scientific papers.
An indication of the respect held by his scientific colleagues is that Prof. Vrba has been the Congress Chairman of a number of prominent international scientific meetings including: The Annual Meeting of ESHO in Prague in 2007; the Progress in Electromagnetic Research Symposium (PIERS) in Prague in 2007; the Microwave and Radioelectronics Week (MAREW) in Prague in 2008; the Int. Symp. on Microwave & Optical Technology (ISMOT) in Prague in 2011 and again the PIERS meeting in Prague to be held July 5-10, 2015. The PIERS meeting will attract over 2,000 attendees.
Note: This year's ESHO-Pyrexar Award was sponsored by Dr. Gerhard Sennewald of Dr. Sennewald Medizintechnik GmbH
According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 94% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 6% will survive more than five years.
As you may know, June 23rd is National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. In preparation, I contacted Dr. Curt Heese from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia and asked to tell us his experience treating this disease.
Q: Can hyperthermia play a role in the treatment of pancreatic cancer?
A: Certainly pancreatic cancer can be very difficult to treat, and having hyperthermia as a way to potentially improve, while not significantly increasing side effects, is a great advantage for patients.
Q: I know you are using hyperthermia at CTCA, what has been your experience?
A: We’ve been seeing some wonderful responses to the therapy, but one case does stand out. A patient with locally advanced pancreatic cancer was receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy in preparation for surgery, and deep tissue hyperthermia was being given immediately prior to each chemotherapy session in the hopes of helping achieve a stronger response, thereby increasing resectability.
Q: So your goal is a course of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before attempting to remove it surgically. And hyperthermia is added to help shrink the tumor and make the tumor more sensitive to the chemo. What was the result in this case?
A: At surgery, they found not just a reduction in tumor burden, but a complete pathologic response with no tumor left when the tissue was examined under microscope. Although we expect size reduction from chemotherapy, chemotherapy alone would not be expected to achieve a complete response. We were thrilled for the patient and it really cemented our belief that hyperthermia can enhance treatment in many types of cancer.
I want to thank Dr. Heese for his comments. I dug into the archives and found an older video clip of Dr. Heese explaining the hyperthermia treatment process. Worth a quick view.
Just published, a clinical review of 38 studies comparing clinical outcomes with and without hyperthermia. Spoiler Alert, chances of a complete response (no more cancer) is increased by and average of 35% when hyperthermia was added to the treatment protocol. The studies compared included cancers of the breast, cervix, head/neck, rectum, bladder, oesophagus, lung, plus superficial tumors, and melanoma. The full abstract is printed below with links to the complete published report.
Hyperthermia, one of the oldest forms of cancer treatment involves selective heating of tumor tissues to temperatures ranging between 39 and 45°C. Recent developments based on the thermoradiobiological rationale of hyperthermia indicate it to be a potent radio- and chemosensitizer. This has been further corroborated through positive clinical outcomes in various tumor sites using thermoradiotherapy or thermoradiochemotherapy approaches. Moreover, being devoid of any additional significant toxicity, hyperthermia has been safely used with low or moderate doses of reirradiation for retreatment of previously treated and recurrent tumors, resulting in significant tumor regression. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies also indicate a unique immunomodulating prospect of hyperthermia, especially when combined with radiotherapy. In addition, the technological advances over the last decade both in hardware and software have led to potent and even safer loco-regional hyperthermia treatment delivery, thermal treatment planning, thermal dose monitoring through noninvasive thermometry and online adaptive temperature modulation. The review summarizes the outcomes from various clinical studies (both randomized and nonrandomized) where hyperthermia is used as a thermal sensitizer of radiotherapy and-/or chemotherapy in various solid tumors and presents an overview of the progresses in loco-regional hyperthermia. These recent developments, supported by positive clinical outcomes should merit hyperthermia to be incorporated in the therapeutic armamentarium as a safe and an effective addendum to the existing oncological treatment modalities.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
“All over the map” is an American idiom for being off topic or on a tangent. Just the opposite is true for the work we are doing here at Pyrexar Medical. Our map shows a growing number of well respected Universities, Hospitals and Cancer Centers adopting hyperthermia in their cancer treatment program. Clinicians and researcher continue to publish studies demonstrating the benefit of hyperthermia when added to existing treatment protocols.
You can see for yourself by visiting our Treatment Locations page on the website. Zoom into your target location and find out where hyperthermia treatments are being offered in your area. Click the pin and find out a little bit about the facility. With your help, we will continue to add new flags every day. Each pin represents the possibility of a new life saved by the oncology doctors and treatment staff of cancer centers around the world.
Please share our message with your social connections. PYREXAR Hyperthermia, making a difference in Cancer Care.
Meet Sam Cervantes. Sam is a radiation therapist RT(t) at the Tacoma Valley Radiation Oncology Center in Western Washington. The TVROC is regional network of treatment centers made up of five locations around the Puget Sound. Jackson Hall Medical Center in Tacoma, WA; St. Joseph Medical Pavilion, also in Tacoma; Dr. Richard C. Ostenson Cancer Center in Puyallup; Jane Thompson Russell Cancer Care Center in Gig Harbor and Capital Medical Center in Olympia.
Sam runs the Hyperthermia equipment in the oncology department. Originally from Florida, she has been living in Washington State for the past three years. She tells us they typically use the PYREXAR BSD-500 Superficial Hyperthermia System to treat Recurrent Chest Wall tumors (breast cancer) and Head & Neck tumors in conjunction with radiotherapy. Typically, each radiation session is accompanied by a 45-minute treatment of hyperthermia. “We bring the treatment area up to our target temperature of 42˚F and hold that temperature. The results are great”.
One system is transported to each of the five treatment centers to share. This makes the system very affordable and increases access to superior care. During our visit we found everyone in the TVROC to be high quality, dedicated professionals who care deeply about their patients health. And did I mention, great results! To learn more about the clinical studies on treating RCW breast cancer and Head & Neck cancers using hypethermia, click the links.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in urban China, according to the World Health Organizations GLOBALCAN study. Lung, stomach, liver, esophageal and colorectal cancers make up the second largest cause of death in the country overall. With a population approaching 1.4 billion, you can see how important it is to find successful therapies to treat this disease.
To address cancer treatment in China, our CTO and chief Scientist, Paul Turner, was invited to speak at a conference held at the Dailan #2 Hospital in the Liaoning province of China. Paul, along with our CEO Mark Falkowski, made the trip last week to participate in the discussion.
The event attracted clinicians and researchers interested in understanding how hyperthermia can improve outcomes and save lives.
The presentations included:
As a wrap up to this successful event, our host Orientech invited our small U.S. delegation to a wonderful meal featuring regional favorites. Not only did we leave making many new friends, we also negotiated a purchase agreement for four BSD-2000 Deep Regional Hyperthermia systems with our new distribution partner Orientech.
We hope our entrance into the Chinese market will help reduce the number of cancer fatalities.
Typically, when treating cancerous tumors, a patient may receive radiation therapy or chemotherapy. While these treatments can be beneficial in some cases, an innovative technology called Hyperthermia, may be used in conjunction with these therapies to increase their effectiveness.
Hyperthermia is used to damage and kill cancer cells. It may also make cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and certain anticancer drugs, potentially reducing the number of radiation treatments needed. There are also minimal side-effects.
Prior to this procedure, a CT scan is performed to precisely locate the tumor area. During Hyperthermia treatment, the affected area is heated superficially by the use of an applicator. The applicator is placed over the patient and may sometimes be filled with water to conform to the patient’s surface anatomy. Microwaves are used to heat the area. The body tissue is exposed to high temperatures (up to approximately 109ºF or 43ºC).
As the heat travels into the body, it 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, killing the tumor cells. This procedure can take up to 1 hour and is performed twice a week for the duration of radiation treatment.
It is recommended to consult your doctor so they can determine the cancer therapy most appropriate for you.
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.
The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Thermal Medicine (STM) concluded last week. The event was held at the happiest place on earth, on the edges of the Disney World resort complex in Orlando, Florida. An apropos locations as temperatures were well into the 90’s, for you thermal scientists around 35˚C, just shy of the hyperthermia therapeutic range.
The annual event attracts clinicians and researchers with exceptional guest speakers and abstracts presented by colleagues. One of those abstracts, “Integration of Deep Hyperthermia with MR Imaging” presented by our own Paul Turner, CTO at Pyrexar Medical. From what I witnessed, this group is made up of dedicated, passionate professionals who care deeply about treating cancer. Even our after hours get-togethers were filled with lively debates on the best uses of thermal therapy. Many conversations requiring a PhD, MD and whiteboard to sufficiently follow.
Pyrexar was very proud to represent the BSD-500 and BSD-2000 product lines at the show, as they have become cornerstones of the thermal therapy modality. We felt very welcomed by the group and had the chance to meet some of the clinicians and researchers behind many of the successful clinical trials you can find on our website.
We are very excited for ICHO 2016 (International Congress of Hyperthermic Oncology) currently planned for New Orleans. According to Chris Lapine, Association Manager at Allen Press, next years conference will host not only the Society of Thermal Medicine, but also ESHO – European Society of Hyperthermic Oncology and the JSTM - Japanese Society for Thermal Medicine. This combination event only happens once every four years. 2016 is going to be a great event.
To learn more about STM visit their website www.thermaltherapy.org
It is move-in week here at Pyrexar Medical in Salt Lake City, UT. The cubicles are up and the electricians and network specialists are busy re-wiring so we can get down to business. Downstairs , manufacturing is getting reconfigured to handle our upcoming workload and everyone is pitching in.
The pace has been fast. Mark Falkowski, CEO and Rex Harmon, VP Sales, started an eastern seaboard road trip yesterday to meet with university and hyperthermia luminaries. They will end up next week at the STM - Society for Thermal Medicine annual event in Orlando, FL. Pyrexar is a sponsor of the event and our own Paul Turner; CTO will be presenting “Integration of deep hyperthermia with MR Imaging” during the Thermal Modeling and Devices Symposium.
We have a lot to share. There are so many great stories and successes in hyperthermia. Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so we can get the word out about this truly valuable and life changing technology.