500BC the greek philosopher and healer Parmenides stated “Give me the power of fever and I will heal all illnesses”. The human organism uses fever as a defense against a wide range of illnesses by enhancing the immune function and destroying pathogens. Hyperthermia is historically based on this principle and aims to carry out specific effects in different conditions . Modern hyperthermia can be performed in different ways using different techniques, comprising infrared light, electromagnetic fields or microwaves. It can be applied as a local intervention (Local or regional hyperthermia) or as a whole body treatment (Whole body hyperthermia). The concrete procedure depends on the individual situation.
Local hyperthermia is capable of inducing temperature levels of up to 44°C in a designated area of the body. Moderate heating with temperature levels up to 40°C is used to induce a higher perfusion in the targeted area. This enhances the drug delivery into the tissue and therefore can be used as a general booster for a wide range of pharmacologic approaches. Intensive hyperthermia with temperatures ranging from 42° – 44°C has a cytotoxic effect und the treated tissue. Cancer cells can be killed directly by this procedure, additional effects are the enhancement of other cytotoxic procedures as cells face heavy stress and get more sensitive. Further on, affected cells start to express so called “Heat Shock Proteins” (HSP). These proteins are recognized by the immune system. Tumors hiding from the immune system can get “visible” again.
Therefor, local hyperthermia is a mighty weapon in fighting a tumor:
- Hyperperfusion with enhanced drug delivery
- Direct cytotoxic effect
- Implied cytotoxic effect by increased sensitivity
- Immunologic effect by marking the cells with HSP
Whole body hyperthermia induces a core temperature of 39°-41°C in the body. In addition to a systemically enhanced perfusion this procedure functions as a general immune booster, mimicking natural fever. Further effects:
- Enhanced supply with micronutrients and oxygen in all tissues
- Reduce of pain and inflammation
- Mood elevation