Dr Greg Schwarz on Hyperthermia
Report by Dr Greg Schwarz.
Here at Gore Street Medical we have the very first whole body hyperthermia de-vice in Australia, imported from Germany, where it is widely used as an immune modulating therapy. Also used in Europe, Canada and the US, hyperthermia therapy consists of artificially inducing an increase in body temperature up to 40.5 degrees Celsius (so called moderate or fever range hyperthermia). Whole body hyperthermia has been used in Europe and North America for many years, treating and supporting a range of conditions including inflammatory conditions (such as inflammatory arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcer-ative colitis, eczema and asthma), chronic pain including fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, chronic infections, degenerative and musculoskeletal conditions. It is also used as an adjunct therapy during cancer treatment to boost the immune system and improve the response to treatment.
Whole body hyperthermia enhances and regulates the immune response, reduces inflammation and pain, improves blood flow, oxygenation and metabolic rate. It promotes repair, deep muscle relaxation and stimulates healing. Heat shock proteins released at high temperatures can alert the immune system to the presence of cancer cells, which otherwise manage to hide themselves from immune surveillance.
Numerous published studies have looked at the combination of whole body hyperthermia with standard cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a wide range of cancers (including mela- noma, head and neck cancer, lung, breast, gastrointestinal, sarcoma and cervix). Many of these studies, but not all, have shown a significant reduction in tumour size when hyperthermia is combined with other treatments (Cancer Institute, Fact Sheet).
We use the Heckel HT3000 Whole Body Hyperthermia system, which is TGA approved. It uses water filtered infra-red lamps to achieve a rapid rise in core temperature to levels not achieved by saunas or hot baths. The patient is lying on a comfortable bed, enclosed by a tent, with access to drinks and room to move around. The head is outside the tent. Fever is sustained for between 1 and 3 hours depending on the individual requirements and tolerance of the patient. The patient is accompanied by a nurse and under medical supervision, whilst vital signs including pulse rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and of course, temperature are continuously monitored. In some cases, treatment will be accompanied with infusions such as saline, vitamin C or other nutrients, if clinically indicated. Whole body hyperthermia is generally very well tolerated, even by quite frail patients, with most patients reporting an improvement in wellbeing after a treatment. There are a small number of contraindications to hyperthermia. For further information, please feel free to contact Gore Street Medical on (03) 6224 6717.