Our team of lung cancer lawyers previously wrote about how hyperthermia exposing parts of the body to very high temperatures could increase the effectiveness of cancer treatments. In the three years since that post, scientists have been studying this treatment and developing new cancer drugs that are activated using heat.
Hyperthermia is also called thermotherapy or thermal therapy, and involves exposing areas of the body to temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing body temperature to help kill disease has been used for centuries; only recently have we been able to seriously study the treatment and apply it to specific areas of the body, such as the lungs, and how to use it in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.
Recent studies show that increasing body temperature not only increases the effects of chemo and radiation, but aids the bodys overall immune system as well. Researchers aim to use hyperthermia to treat tumors earlier, with less toxicity from chemotherapy, and trigger better immune response. Some are even developing drugs that are activated by heat, which would let doctors give patients higher doses with fewer side effects.
Hyperthermia in Surgery, Chemo, and Immunotherapy
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High heat burns and kills tumor tissue, just like it does regular, healthy skin tissue. For patients fighting cancers of specific organs, like the lungs or bladder, the treatment must be isolated. There are several devices to administer isolated treatment. In one clinical trial, bladder cancer patients had chemotherapy that was heated beforehand delivered using a catheter. Patients received the treatment for one hour, once a week, for six weeks. They were awake during the entire treatment, and typically did not require any painkillers.
In other clinical trials, doctors pretreat cancer patients with hyperthermia before undergoing surgery. The goal is the decrease the chance of cancer recurrence after tumor removal. Current studies focus primarily on bladder cancer patients, as this type of cancer is particularly responsive to hyperthermia. This could be especially helpful for people who developed bladder cancer from Actos use.
Hyperthermia can make chemotherapy more effective in two ways: first, the heat opens up tumor tissue (dilating the tumor blood vessels) so it is more vulnerable to chemotherapy. Since the chemo can infiltrate the tumor vessels further, it can do more damage to tumor DNA.
Second, tumor cells have protective properties that fight chemotherapy drugs. Extreme heat weakens these properties, making the same chemo drug more likely to win the battle and kill the cell. This makes the chemo more effective.
Hyperthermia is also being studied in combination with immunotherapy drugs. Because high heat activates the immune system, it is better able to recognize and activate cells that fight tumors. It essentially enhances the bodys levels of protection throughout, not just in the immediate treatment area.
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For lung cancer patients, regional hyperthermia is the best approach. This is when the patients blood is removed, heated, and then pumped back into the organ, often alongside chemotherapy drugs. If you or someone you love was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, contact our firm immediately. We have helped thousands of clients across the country gain justice for their suffering. Even former smokers may be eligible for a lung cancer lawsuit. Contact our lung cancer lawyers today for a free legal consultation.