In Part 3 of the hyperthermia news report, produced by Salt Lake City's ABC station Good4Utah, we meet Randy. Randy is a great example of what hyperthermia could do for cancer patients around the world. Randy was diagnosed with rectal cancer that had metastasized to his colon and lungs. The tumor was too large to be surgically removed. As in most cases with cancers this advanced, the doctor's tried to make the patient comfortable with pain killers and recommended hospice care. I cannot imagine what that must feel like to hear that your life is at its end.
But Randy had an advocate in his sister and, through an internet search, found Dr. Hayes of Gamma West Cancer Services. Dr. Hayes had a plan, treat the primary tumor with brachytherapy and hyperthermia to provided the best outcome. Not only did the treatment shrink the primary tumor and kill the cancer, but also the other tumors continue to shrink or have completely disappeared. Randy has a new lease on life.
I want to repeat this point. The primary tumor was treated with brachytherapy radiation and interstitial hyperthermia. The metastatic sites of the colon and lung received no treatment, no radiation, and no chemotherapy. How did the other cancers disappear? Immune Modulation. Hyperthermia restarted the immune systems ability to recognize the cancer. Any stray cancer cells that may find a new stronghold in the body were attacked by the body's own immune system.
When I have asked other doctors why hyperthermia is not used in all cancer treatment, the response I get is radiation and chemotherapy work "pretty well". Our hope is hyperthermia will play more of a role in first line treatment as a non-pharmaceutical radiosensitizer (with little to no toxicity).