For the clinical application of thermochemotherapy given at mild temperatures

M. Urano, M. Kuroda, Y. Nishimura

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267 Citations (Scopus)


It has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo that hyperthermia can enhance the cytotoxicity of some chemotherapeutic agents. This paper summarizes the authors' own laboratory studies on the effect of chemotherapeutic agents given at elevated temperatures, experimental results obtained using animal tumour systems in other laboratories, and clinical trials of thermochemotherapy reported in literature. The in vivo studies have demonstrated that the thermal enhancement of cytotoxicity of many chemotherapeutic agents is maximized at mild temperatures such as at 40.5-39°C. Comparison of in vitro and in vivo results using five agents show that the in vivo thermal enhancement increases with an increase in the activation energy obtained in the temperature range between 40.5 and 43.0°C. A summary of experimental results obtained by various investigators indicates a potentially wide variation in the thermal enhancement of a given agent among the different types of tumours and suggests potential agents useful at moderately elevated temperatures. In vivo studies on nine different agents indicate that the drug(s) of choice at physiological temperatures may not be the drug(s) of choice at elevated temperatures. It is also shown that drug concentration in the target must be high for sufficient thermal enhancement. Clinical trials of thermochemotherapy have employed various heating methods, including local heating, hyerthermic perfusion and whole body hyperthermia. Extensive trials have been made in the treatment of melanoma and soft tissue sarcoma in the extremity. Hyperthermic isolated perfusion with chemotherapeutic(s) provides much higher drug concentration than a systemic drug administration in the target(s), resulting in a high tumour response rate and an increased survival of the patients. It is of interest that the most successful agent used in the treatment of both melanomas and sarcomas is melphalan and is the drug of choice at moderately elevated temperatures among the nine agents tested in the in vivo studies. Current results using the tumour necrosis factor with melphalan are impressive. In several institutes, techniques have been developed to uniformly heat the localized tumour, but studies are needed to find an agent effective at elevated temperatures to each type of tumours and to establish the methods for obtaining a sufficient drug concentration in the target tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-107
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Hyperthermia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Animal tumours
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Thermal enhancement
  • Thermochemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


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