Utilization of thermal energy in various medical procedures and treatments is rather an ancient approach, well known and wide spread for decades. Application of heat onto tissue causes vasodilatation and increased blood flow in a given area, improves nutrition and oxygen supplying of the local cells and consequentially leads to higher rates of metabolism in a given tissue. Additional effects of thermal therapy are decreased pain and muscle spasm, as well as certain changes in pH values of extracellular environment locally. All of these characteristics have been used in many medical fields and branches as an integrated procedure in the treatment of various diseases.
There are two forms of hyperthermia that can be achieved. Active hyperthermia occurs when inner thermoregulating mechanism reacts to some stimulus and increases body’s temperature. Thermotherapy uses the various pyrogenic material to provoke this condition. Passive hyperthermia is achieving by increasing body’s temperature from the outside with application of high temperature generated by various devices.
The thermal therapy uses both forms of hyperthermia in many medical fields, but the current one being under the spotlight is thermotherapy in oncology. Various efforts are being made to adjust thermal methods properly to use them as a powerful weapon when fighting malignant diseases. Standardization of doses, treatment duration, contraindications and many other aspects is highly required since the positive effect of this treatment is obvious so far.
OncoThermia is electro-hyperthermia procedure that uses an electric field, and the patient integrated into it to apply energy onto various tissues affected by tumor and interfere with metabolic processes of malignant cells. When applying heat to malignant cells, they tend to increase production of HS protein which helps them resist thermal effect. This problem is solved by modifying oncothermia to be more selective and affect only extracellular matrix. When applied into ECM, heat increases the permeability of cell membrane, leading to cell vulnerability and consequentially death, as well as changing of pH values of the environment around the malignant tissue to disturb its usual nutrition and oxygen supply.