A causal relationship between hyperpyrexia and tumor regression was first suggested in 1866, when Busch reported the cure of a histologically diagnosed sarcoma in a middle-aged woman, following a bout of erysipelas. Over the years, interest in the effect of heat on cancer has remained alive, but this interest has increased dramatically in recent years. The literature on this subject is broadly reviewed and the clinical results discussed. It is apparent from clinical studies thus far that it is a relatively simple undertaking to treat superficial neoplasms with hyperthermia. However, the major challenges in clinical thermotherapy pertain to patients with deeply situated tumors. The lack of safe and reliable methods of monitoring temperature in deep tissues is a major impediment to a thorough understanding of thermal dosimetry in clinical hyperthermia, and routine thermal dosimetry in clinical hyperthermia will have to await the development of reliable noninvasive thermometry. As responses have been reported with modest levels of hyperthermia, the need for thermometry is somewhat lessened, given that invasive monitoring is imperfect and somewhat risky when used in deeply seated tumours. The eventual place of thermotherapy in the treatment of malignant tumours in man is as yet unclear and must be rigourously and thoroughly assessed in well-designed, prospective, randomized patient trials.
- malignant disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas