History of hyperthermia
The first mention of the healing effect of heat supply appeared in the ancient Egyptian civilizations (2400 BC). However, only physicians of ancient Greece applied this therapeutic approach consistently, then recognized and named as “overheating” (Greek: Hyperthermia). “Give me the power to create fever and I will cure any disease, “Parmenides, Greek physician, 540-480. BC. Over the centuries there were a wide variety of applications.
The artificial production of pyrogenic substances as fever in fever therapy was for a time common in the control of infectious diseases. These interventions in the body and bodily functions can be termed as active hyperthermia. The passive hyperthermia, however, refers to the increase in the body temperature by means of inserting devices from the outside. It is now mainly used in the treatment of cancer.
Hyperthermia in Cancer Treatment
In 1910, the possibility of overheating to increase the radiation effect in malignant tumors was revealed for the first time. In the early 1960s, this known and used method was rediscovered as whole body hyperthermia. Since the 1970s, studies are underway to this form of therapy. In Germany, it was mainly physicist and cancer researcher Manfred von Ardenne, who employed the so-called multi-step oxygen therapy with the use of hyperthermia for cancer multi-step therapy.
He and others developed modern equipment technology which allowed better control of overheating and thus refined application in medical practice.
Hyperthermia can allow remarkable treatment efficacy when used in combination with “classic” forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This combination of therapies increases treatment efficacy making healing more likely – demonstrating the synergistic effect of hyperthermia. It has, for example, been found that cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy agents) act more aggressively at temperatures above 40 ° C than at normal body temperature.
In addition, the thermally damaged tumor cells are easier to control by radiotherapy because their repair skills are reduced. This reduces possible side effects such as hair loss and nausea which are often considered a heavy mental and physical burden on the patient. Even a tumor that was resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy will respond to these therapies after a hyperthermia treatment.
Non-Oncological applications of hyperthermia
These applications mainly use temperatures from the moderate range. Most of these applications apply whole-body hyperthermia. It is used as a treatment form for chronic diseases and used, among others
to treat allergies and rheumatism.