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Heating up breast cancer

When treatments fail and the cancer comes back, patients are often left with few options. Now a new therapy is heating up breast cancer tumors.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure.

"There are not a lot of drugs that work, or work for a long period of time," Ridgeway told ABC30.

The mom of two was facing a typical life expectancy of just three years.

"That's a mom's horror story, knowing that you aren't going to be here," she said.

Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she's trying something new.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are offering patients hyperthermia treatment.

"Hyperthermia is heat therapy. It's actually been around since the time of the Egyptians," Jennifer Yu, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, told ABC30.

A hot bag is placed on top of the skin. A microwave unit heats the bag and the tissue under it to about 110 degrees. The heat increases blood flow and makes tumors more sensitive to radiation.

"And it improves cell kill," Dr. Yu said.

In one study, 66 percent of cancer patients who had hyperthermia and radiation had their tumors shrink completely compared to just 42 percent who had only radiation.

Lisa hopes the treatment will give her more time.

"My choice is I want to live," she said.

Dr. Yu says there are about 10 centers around the country using hyperthermia for breast cancer. Typically, treatments last one hour and are performed one to two times a week. Hyperthermia is also used in other cancers such as melanomas, gynecologic cancers, and head and neck cancers.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Tora Vinci
Media Relations Manager
Cleveland Clinic
vinciv@ccf.org


Related Topics:
health health care breast cancer cancer
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