The compelling biologic basis for combining hyperthermia with modern cancer therapies including radiation and chemotherapy was first appreciated nearly half a century ago. Hyperthermia complements radiation as conditions contributing to radio-resistance generally enhance sensitivity to heat and sensitizing effects occur through increased perfusion/tumor oxygenation and alteration of cellular death pathways. Chemosensitization with hyperthermia is dependent on the particular mechanism of effect for each agent with synergistic effects noted for several commonly used agents. Clinically, randomized trials have demonstrated benefit including survival with the addition of hyperthermia to radiation or chemotherapy in treatment of a wide range of malignancies. Improvements in treatment delivery techniques, streamlined logistics, and greater understanding of the relationship of thermal dosimetry to treatment outcomes continue to facilitate wider clinical implementation. Evolving applications include thermal enhancement of immunotherapy, targeted drug delivery and application of principals of thermal biology towards integration of thermal ablation into multimodality oncologic care.
Recommended CitationHurwitz, MD, Mark and Stauffer, Paul R., "Hyperthermia, radiation and chemotherapy: the role of heat in multidisciplinary cancer care." (2014). Department of Radiation Oncology Faculty Papers. Paper 69.