Hyperthermia | Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center | Loyola Medicine


Regional or Local Heat Therapy for Cancer Treatment

The highly skilled radiation oncology team at Loyola Medicine offers a full spectrum of sophisticated cancer treatment options, including a state-of-the-art hyperthermia system. This hyperthermia system is used to deliver both external and internal heat to tumors, and has proven to be a successful treatment option for cancer patients.

Hyperthermia uses heat, often through radiofrequency, ultrasound, microwaves or lasers, to target and destroy cancer cells. When cancer cells in the body are exposed to heat, changes occur that can make other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, more effective.
Although relatively new, hyperthermia is a promising treatment, particularly for patients with advanced or recurrent cancer. Recent studies also show that heat may help tumors shrink by damaging cells or depriving them of what they need to survive. As a result, hyperthermia is an effective complementary treatment for many cancer types, including:

Loyola is nationally recognized for providing technologically advanced treatments, promoting patient safety and delivering outstanding outcomes.  We are pleased to be one of the elite providers of hyperthermia as an additional treatment option for our patients, and continue to participate in research on the success of this cancer treatment.

What to Expect with Hyperthermia

Doctors at Loyola are highly skilled at using hyperthermia to treat your specific cancer type. Utilizing state-of-the-art facilities and technology, our cancer doctors will employ one of two distinct methods of hyperthermia to treat your specific tumor:

  • Regional hyperthermia, or whole-body hyperthermia raises the temperature of the body part or the whole body a few degrees higher than normal, which enables other cancer treatments such as radiation, immunotherapy or chemotherapy to work better.
  • Thermal ablation, or local hyperthermia, uses very high temperatures to destroy a small area of cancer cells or a tumor.  Radio waves, microwaves and other forms of energy can be used to heat the area from outside your body, which kills the cells within the tumor.  Ultrasound waves can also be used, which is a technique called high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU.

In both hyperthermia cancer treatment options, the heat can be applied either externally or internally.  In external heating, doctors aim high-energy waves at a tumor near the body surface from a machine outside the body. With internal heating, a thin needle or probe is inserted into the tumor. The tip of the probe releases energy, which heats the tissue around it.
The hyperthermia treatment your doctor uses will depend on your specific cancer type. Our multidisciplinary team of experts works together to determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient. 

Hyperthermia Side Effects

Hyperthermia causes few complications. The possible side effects depend on the technique being used and the part of the body being treated.

Side effects of local hyperthermia are usually short-term and may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Burns or blistering
  • Damage to skin, muscles or nerves near treated area
  • Infection
  • Skin discomfort or local pain
  • Swelling

Whole body hyperthermia can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.