Hyperthermia, Sauna, Immunotherapy and Vitamin C for Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths. Breast, lung, colon and rectum and prostate cancers are the most common cancer.

Some cancer patients will only receive one treatment, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. However, some people may receive a combination of treatments, such as radiation therapy combined with hyperthermia or immunotherapy, in order to improve its effectiveness.

Contents

What is Hyperthemia?
  • Hyperthermia Therapy for Cancer
  • Hyperthermia in Combined Treatment of Cancer

What is Sauna?
  • Finnish Sauna and Cancer Risk
  • Infrared Sauna and Cancer

What is Immunotherapy?
  • Immunotherapy in Combined Treatment of Cancer

What is Vitamin C?
  • Intravenous Vitamin C in Combined Treatment of Cancer

FAQ

What is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature because your body can no longer release enough of its heat to maintain a normal temperature. It’s the opposite of hypothermia, when your body is too cold.

Hyperthermia vs Fever
Hyperthermia isn’t the same as a fever. Hyperthermia is an uncontrolled rise in body temperature due to thermoregulation failure. Thermoregulation is a process that allows your body to maintain its core internal temperature.

A fever, on the other hand, is a temporary increase in your body temperature. Your hypothalamus increases your body’s set-point temperature often because your body’s attempt to fight off an infection.

Hyperthermia Therapy for Cancer

Hyperthermia Therapy for Cancer
Thermal Therapy – photo from semanticscholar.org

Heat therapy for cancer

High body temperature is often caused by illness, such as fever or heat stroke. Research has shown that elevated body temperature can damage and kill cancerous cells with minimal injury to normal cells (Source). The main mechanism involved is by killing the cancer cells by destructing proteins and the structure within cells. Thus, hyperthermia may shrink tumors (Source).

In addition, hyperthermia to treat cancer is also called thermal therapy, thermal ablation, or thermotherapy.

This application of heat also help enhance the efficiency of standard cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Hyperthermia in combined treatment of cancer:

a. Combination of Hyperthermia and Radiotherapy

Hyperthermia treatment is a non-invasive method of increasing tumor temperature to stimulate blood flow, increase oxygenation and render tumor cells more sensitive to radiation. By adding hyperthermia to radiation therapy, radiation oncologists can increase tumor control while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

Hyperthermia helps address the limitations of radiation for many patients by effectively increasing the radiation dose without increasing in unwanted side effects. (Source)

Hyperthermia and Radiotherapy in Metastatic Melanoma

A major multicenter trial was carried out in Europe by ESHO in patients with metastatic melanoma showed that here was a significant benefit for the addition of Hyperthermia, with a 2-year local control of 46% in the combined group as compared with 28% for those receiving Radiation alone. (Source)

b. Combination of Hyperthermia and Chemotherapy

Hyperthermia drug sensitization can be found in several anti-cancer drugs, mainly in alkylating agents. Those cells which are already resistant to the drugs, can respond to the same drug with combination therapy (i.e. heat).

Hyperthermia, with enhanced tissue perfusion, facilitates the absorption of chemotherapeutic API through cell membrane. In the presence of heat, chemical reaction gets accelerated. Therefore, chemotherapy becomes more effective, and less toxic. (Source)

What is Sauna?

A sauna is a small room that is heated between 150° and 190° Fahrenheit to help the body sweat out toxins using dry heat.

Sauna vs Steam Room
Sauna and steam room are actually similar, however they do have differences. The big difference is in the type of heat that they provide. A sauna uses dry heat, usually from hot rocks or a closed stove. Steam rooms, on the other hand, are heated by a generator filled with boiling water. Moreover, sauna is generally hotter than a steam room.

Traditional / Finnish Sauna and Cancer Risk

Traditional / Finnish Sauna and Cancer Risk
picture from fluidra.com

Finnish sauna bathing has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Facilities offering sauna bathing often claim health benefits that include detoxification, increased metabolism, weight loss, increased blood circulation, improved cardiovascular function, and many more. However, rigorous medical evidence to support these claims is scant and incomplete.

Finnish Sauna and Cancer Risk
A study showed that frequent Finnish sauna bathing is not associated with the risk of cancer in a middle-aged male Caucasian population. Further studies are required to confirm or refute these findings, particularly in women and other age groups.

Infrared Sauna and Cancer

Infrared Sauna and Cancer
picture from endeavour.edu.au

These saunas use infrared emitters at different wavelengths without water or additional humidity and generally run at lower temperatures (45–60°C) than Finnish saunas with similar exposure times (Source)

Infrared has the potential to reduce the dosage of paclitaxel in clinical anticancer chemotherapy to avoid paclitaxel-induced severe side-effects, such as lower white blood cell counts, hair loss, diarrhea, mouth sores, and hypersensitivity reactions. (Source)

Infrared is divided into different bands: Near-Infrared (NIR, 0.78~3.0 μm), Mid-Infrared (MIR, 3.0~50.0 μm) and Far-Infrared (FIR, 50.0~1000.0 μm) (Source)

Far-Infrared Radiation and Cancer

A study suggests that FIR should be very effective medical treatment for some cancer cells which have a low level of HSP70. Still more, if the level of HSP70 in any cancer of a patient was measured, the effect of medical treatment by FIR can be foreseen for the cancer. (Source)

*HSP 70 / Heat shock protein 70 is a molecular chaperone that is expressed in response to stress.


What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy
picture from arizonabloodandcancerspecialists.com

Immunotherapy uses our immune system to fight cancer. It works by helping the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells.

You might have immunotherapy on its own or with other cancer treatments. Immunotherapy is a standard treatment for some types of cancer. And it is in trials for other types of cancer.

There are different types of immunotherapy. These include monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors, and vaccines. Some types of immunotherapy are also called targeted treatments or biological therapies. (Source)

Immunotherapy cancer success rate
Immunotherapy drugs work better in some cancers than others and while they can be a miracle for some, they fail to work for all patients. Overall response rates are about 15 to 20%. (Source)

Immunotherapy in Combined Treatment of Cancer

a. Combination of Immunotherapy and Radiotherapy

Radiation seems to synergize with immunotherapy via several mechanisms, such as increasing the visibility of tumor antigens, activating the cGAS-STING pathway, and modulating the tumor microenvironment. (Source)

Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer
A study shows a summary of ongoing randomized studies combining immunotherapies and radiotherapy in lung cancer. According to current clinical trial data, radiotherapy combined with immunotherapy can significantly improve the survival of lung cancer patients without significantly increasing adverse reactions

b. Combination of Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapies

An improved understanding of cancer pathogenesis has given rise to new treatment options, including targeted agents and cancer immunotherapy. Targeted approaches aim to inhibit molecular pathways that are critical to tumor growth and maintenance, whereas immunotherapy endeavors to stimulate a host response that effectuates long-lived tumor destruction. (Source)

Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy in Metastatic Melanoma
Although the response duration of immunotherapy is optimal, the rate of response is low in patients with metastatic melanoma because of the initiation of immune evasion. Therefore, combining targeted therapy with immunotherapy, especially immune checkpoint blockade, is a scientific and prominent strategy in effort to maximize therapeutic benefits and minimize toxicity. (Source)


What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C
SOMMAI/ Shutterstock

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient which cannot be produced by humans (Nutrients. 2017). Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Vitamin C may be one of the most well-known immune nutrients that protect against immune deficiencies and which supports the prevention and recovery from the common cold and upper-respiratory issues, and also protects your cardiovascular system, eyes, skin, and other parts of your body.

Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer
There is limited high-quality clinical evidence on the safety and effectiveness of Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC). IVC may improve the quality of life and symptom severity of patients with cancer, and several cases of cancer remission have been reported. Well-designed, controlled studies of IVC therapy are needed. (Source)

Although there is no proof that vitamin C can cure cancer on its own, researchers are investigating whether it can improve the efficacy of other cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as lessen treatment side effects.

Intravenous Vitamin C in Combined Treatment of Cancer

a. Combination of Intravenous Vitamin C and Chemotherapy

There is still no evidence that the use of IVC improves chemotherapy effectiveness or reduces chemotherapy-induced toxicity. High-dose IVC, on the other hand, could be regarded a therapy for increasing quality of life and lowering cancer-related symptoms including fatigue and bone pain.

b. Combination of Intravenous Vitamin C and Immunotherapy

Vitamin C cooperates with immune checkpoint therapy (ICT) in several cancer types. Combination of Vitamin C and ICT can be curative in models of mismatch repair-deficient tumors with high mutational burden. (Source)


FAQ

a. Who is a candidate for immunotherapy?

The type and stage of your cancer, the biomarkers that your cancer expresses, and whether current cancer treatment guidelines and data support immunotherapy for certain conditions all play a role in determining if you are a candidate for immunotherapy.

If genetic testing reveals biomarkers for PD-L1 expression, high microsatellite instability, or a high tumor mutational burden, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy.

b. Immunotherapy side effects

Immunotherapy side effects vary based on the type of treatment used, as well as the location and type of cancer being treated, as well as the patient’s overall condition.

In general, the following are some common side effects of immunotherapy: arthritis, chills, constipation, coughing, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and flu-like symptoms, headache, hypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, infusion-related reaction / injection site pain, itching, muscle aches, nausea, rash, vomiting.

However, you need to seek your oncologist for further explanation because certain types of immunotherapies may give you other side effects.

c. Hyperthermia side effects

Side effects depend on what part of the body is treated and how high the temperature is raised. Whole-body and regional hyperthermia can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. More serious, though rare, side effects can include problems with the heart, blood vessels, and other major organs. (Source)

Because localized and whole-body hyperthermia are frequently used in combination with other cancer therapies including chemotherapy and radiation, adverse effects from these treatments may appear immediately or later.


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