Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab


  • Ashley A. Manzoor
  • Mark W. Dewhirst
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_2915-2


Hyperthermia refers to the elevation of temperature above physiological levels, typically to values of 40–45 °C.


Hyperthermia utilizes elevated tissue temperatures, typically between 40 °C and 45 °C, to alter the tumor and normal tissue environment. The goal of hyperthermia in cancer treatment is to create an environment that will aid in eradicating tumor while sparing normal tissue. Hyperthermia accomplishes this by causing direct cytotoxic effects and a variety of physiologic effects, including the alteration of blood flow and oxygenation status. Clinically, hyperthermia can work synergistically with both radiation and chemotherapy.

Cytotoxic Effects

Hyperthermia elicits cytotoxic effects in tissue through a variety of mechanisms, inducing both apoptosis and necrosis. Above 40 °C, protein is a dominant molecular target, with protein denaturation exhibiting a similar heat of inactivation as thermal cell kill and damage (130–170 kcal/mol). Other cellular...


Thermal Sensitivity Tumor Metabolism Proton Resonance Frequency Chest Wall Recurrence Water Bolus 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA