Does hyperthermia have any complications or side effects?

Most normal tissues are not damaged during hyperthermia if the temperature remains under 111°F. However, due to regional differences in tissue characteristics, higher temperatures may occur in various spots. This can result in burns, blisters, discomfort, or pain (1, 5, 7). Perfusion techniques can cause tissue swelling, blood clots, bleeding, and other damage to the normal tissues in the perfused area; however, most of these side effects are temporary. Whole-body hyperthermia can cause more serious side effects, including cardiac and vascular disorders, but these effects are uncommon (1, 3, 7). Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are commonly observed after whole-body hyperthermia (7).

What does the future hold for hyperthermia?

A number of challenges must be overcome before hyperthermia can be considered a standard treatment for cancer (1, 3, 6, 7). Many clinical trials are being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of hyperthermia. Some trials continue to research hyperthermia in combination with other therapies for the treatment of different cancers. Other studies focus on improving hyperthermia techniques.

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Selected References

1. van der Zee J. Heating the patient: a promising approach? Annals of Oncology 2002; 13(8):1173–1184.

2. Hildebrandt B, Wust P, Ahlers O, et al. The cellular and molecular basis of hyperthermia. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology 2002; 43(1):33–56.

3. Wust P, Hildebrandt B, Sreenivasa G, et al. Hyperthermia in combined treatment of cancer. The Lancet Oncology 2002; 3(8):487–497.

4. Alexander HR. Isolation perfusion. In: DeVita VT Jr., Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, editors. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. Vol. 1 and 2. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2001.

5. Falk MH, Issels RD. Hyperthermia in oncology. International Journal of Hyperthermia 2001; 17(1):1–18.

6. Dewhirst MW, Gibbs FA Jr, Roemer RB, Samulski TV. Hyperthermia. In: Gunderson LL, Tepper JE, editors. Clinical Radiation Oncology. 1st ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.

7. Kapp DS, Hahn GM, Carlson RW. Principles of Hyperthermia. In: Bast RC Jr., Kufe DW, Pollock RE, et al., editors. Cancer Medicine e.5. 5th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: B.C. Decker Inc., 2000.

8. Feldman AL, Libutti SK, Pingpank JF, et al. Analysis of factors associated with outcome in patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma undergoing surgical debulking and intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2003; 21(24):4560–4567.

9. Chang E, Alexander HR, Libutti SK, et al. Laparoscopic continuous hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion. Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2001; 193(2):225–229.