Hyperthermia is a treatment that uses heat to destroy cancer cells. It can be used alone or with other treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
There are two main types of hyperthermia:
- Local hyperthermia (high heat to a small area).
- Regional hyperthermia (heat to a body part or your entire body).
Heating a small area, such as a tumor, can kill cancer cells directly. Doctors can heat small areas with radio waves, ultrasound and other forms of energy. A needle or probe is placed in the tumor to kill cancer cells with heat or radio waves. This is called thermal ablation or radiofrequency ablation.
Heating a body part or the whole body can make radiation and other cancer treatments more effective. Doctors can do this by warming the blood in one area or heating the whole body with warm water or special blankets.
Some types of hyperthermia treatments are done under general anesthetic (you are in a deep sleep and don't remember the procedure when you wake up). Your OHSU Knight Cancer team can help you decide if hyperthermia is right for you.