Local hyperthermia targets a weak point of cancerous tumors, namely their inability to withstand high temperatures. Healthy tissue surrounding the tumor regulates temperature by increasing blood flow and dilating blood vessels, while the tumor tissue, on the contrary, experiences a decrease in blood circulation. Therefore, for the tumor, the temperature increase acts as a trap because it leads to the development of a cellular environment that is acidic and harmful, with an inability to assimilate nutrients and self-intoxication. Thus, during exposure to local hyperthermia, overheating (temperatures between 41°C and 43°C) significantly disrupts the metabolism of tumor cells, leading to their death.
In this form of therapy, ultrasounds or low frequency electrical currents are directed, in a controlled and targeted manner, by means of special devices, towards the organ or tissue affected by the tumor. The energy thus produced is absorbed by the extracellular environment where the tumor cells are located, consequently increasing their temperature and producing the intended effects.
The devices that are used transmit the dose of energy in a controlled manner, causing the tissue to heat up to 42.5˚C. Biophysics and cell biology tests have shown that, in tumor areas where cell activity is more intense, a higher ionic concentration is recorded. Therefore, the conductivity and permittivity of the extracellular matrix of malignant tissue becomes higher than in the healthy tissue. This difference facilitates the almost exclusive damage of the malignant cells in a tumor that also contains healthy cells. This natural selection is further accentuated by the individual behavior of the tumor cells, while also stimulating the immune response of the body.
Loco-regional hyperthermia at the ImunoMedica clinic involves placing the patient on a special bed between two different-sized capacitor plates, creating an electric field with a frequency of 13.5 MHz. Cancerous tissue and healthy tissue have different dielectric constants. The dielectric constant in cancerous tissue varies between 8 and 15 MHz, while the dielectric constant in healthy tissue varies between 80 and 100 MHz. The resonant vibration generates intense molecular friction, creating heat and raising the temperature of the tumor tissue. Therefore, the capacitive field of modulated local electro-hyperthermia heats the tumor tissue, while only a moderate increase in temperature is observed in the healthy tissue around it. During the approximately 60-minute local hyperthermia session at the ImunoMedica clinic, the patient is under continuous medical supervision.
The frequency and duration of local hyperthermia application in their clinic depend on the specific condition of the patient. In general, local hyperthermia is extremely well-tolerated, and no side effects are recorded, even when administered concurrently with other therapies.
Clinical trials (phases II and III) have proven that regional
hyperthermia is recommended for solid tumors, both primary and
metastatic. The therapy is able to increase the patient's survival rate
and quality of life. It may also be applied for palliative purposes,
when conventional therapies are no longer indicated or efficient.
- Brain tumors and metastases (with a high success rate).
- Cancers of the digestive system (stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, and intestinal cancer).
- Lower abdominal cancers (uterine, ovarian, prostate).
- Surface tumors (breast cancer, melanoma).
- Lung cancer.
- Lymphatic cancer.
- Bone cancer or bone metastases.
Clinical experience has shown that local hyperthermia, especially when performed before or after surgical removal of tumor tissue, improves patient recovery parameters and reduces the chances of subsequent metastases. It has also been found to be particularly effective in treating inoperable tumors and frequent types of recurrent tumors.
In addition to oncological treatments, local hyperthermia can be used to address spinal and joint conditions (advanced osteoarthritis, spondylosis, and spinal disc degeneration). It is also successfully applied in chronic inflammation and degeneration of internal organs, such as chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis.
Chemosensitization. Local therapy, applied in addition to conventional chemotherapy, sensitizes the tumors to this treatment, by affecting the integrity of the tumor cell membrane and increasing the permeability and structural dysfunction, thus increasing the rate of absorption of the administered chemicals. The results of the clinical trials, phases II/III, proved that local hyperthermia, associated with chemotherapy, is a more precise way of targeted administering of antitumor drugs in the tumor.
Radiosensitization. Local hyperthermia sensitizes the tumor to radiotherapy when it is administered complementarily (there is an increase in oxygen supply to the cells). Regional hyperthermia carried out during radiotherapy treatments improves patients' response to treatment and their chances of survival. Hyperthermia increases oxygenation and thus reduces hypoxia, amplifying the cytotoxic effect of radiation. It also inhibits the processes of recovery of tumor cells affected by radiation.
The immune response. Local hyperthermia activates antigen expression as a result of impaired tumor cell membrane. Most notably, the release of heat shock proteins (HSPs) that support the emergence of a tumor destruction immune response. The release, by the affected tumor cells, of the B1 proteins (HMGB1), ATP and HSP stimulates the body's immune response and thus contributes to the antitumor effect. Local hyperthermia also stimulates the restoration of inter-cellular and intermolecular connections necessary to trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) and to stop the migration processes of tumor cells in the body.
Gene damage. Studies have shown that local hyperthermia activates the p53 suppressor tumor gene, which plays a role in lowering the rate of division and in facilitating apoptosis.
Side effects and contraindications
The therapy has minimal risks during administration, and side effects are limited and rare. The application of high temperature to the tumor has minimal effects on the neighboring healthy tissues.
From among side effects, the most common is the slight reddening of the area where the treatment was applied, but the effect disappears by itself due to the function of the highly branched and efficient blood system from healthy tissues. This does not happen in the tumor, as it is irrigated by a deficient capillary system.
The therapy is effective in all forms of cancer, but it is not recommended to be applied in areas where there is a pacemaker or metal stents placed in parallel to the electrode, as well as metal prostheses. Therapy may be applied from the distance of approximately 10-20 cm from these areas.
Advantages of local hyperthermia:
- No external interference with your body: Local hyperthermia does not involve external interventions with your body.
- No anesthesia required: Local hyperthermia is performed without anesthesia.
- No side effects, complications, or pain: Local hyperthermia is associated with no side effects, complications, or pain.
- Outpatient treatment: Local hyperthermia is conducted as an outpatient treatment.