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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Deep tissue hyperthermia

What is deep tissue hyperthermia?

Deep tissue hyperthermia is the use of heat in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, to treat certain tumors deep in the pelvic or abdominal regions of the body. When cells in the body are exposed to higher than normal temperatures, changes take place inside the cells. These changes can make the cells more susceptible to radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatment.

Deep tissue hyperthermia is FDA-approved to treat cervical cancer in conjunction with radiation therapy. Deep tissue hyperthermia is also being investigated in conjunction with radiation therapy or chemotherapy for the treatment of other abdominal and pelvic-area tumors.

How it works

Deep tissue hyperthermia is used to reach tumors that are located more than 3 cm under the skin surface. Prior to the procedure, a CT scan is performed to precisely locate the tumor area. Temperature probes are used to accurately monitor external and internal temperatures.

A water-filled applicator is then placed over the patient’s abdomen and focused electromagnetic energy (radio frequency energy) is directed at the tumor, heating the tumor to a temperature between 104oF to 107oF. Deep tissue hyperthermia dilates blood vessels around the tumor, causing oxygen-carrying red blood cells to spread into the tumor.

If the patient is later exposed to radiation treatment, the radiation reacts with the high levels of oxygen in the tumor, potentially destroying the cancer cells. If the patient receives chemotherapy, the increased blood flow to the tumor area potentially brings more chemotherapy to the tumor. Cancer cells may be weakened or destroyed, while healthy tissue is typically not damaged.

Deep tissue hyperthermia can take up to two hours and is typically performed twice a week for the duration of the radiation or chemotherapy treatment. Side effects are generally minimal.

Deep tissue hyperthermia medical animation