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Heat therapy

Heat treatment kills cancer cells

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: heat therapy, cancer therapies, testicular cancer


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(NewsTarget) Testicular cancer patients have a higher survival rate than other cancer patients because the cancer cells are sensitive to body heat, leading the researchers at Johns Hopkins University to conclude heat therapy may be a viable treatment for cancer.

The testes -- always a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body -- are an ideal location for cancer cells, but evidence suggests those cells die when they try to spread to other locations around the body.

This leads Professor Robert Getzenberg and his colleagues to believe the cancer cells would respond well to heat treatment in what they call the "Lance Armstrong effect," after the seven-time Tour de France winner who famously beat testicular cancer. Getzenberg and the other scientists are now experimenting with other heat-based methods of weakening cancer cells.

"We tried to put our heads together about what we know about the differences between testicular and other cancers." Getzenberg said in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "There is an amazing difference in treatment success, and we wanted to come up with a simple idea that has a biological basis."

The problem with heat therapy would be targeting the cancer cells without doing any damage to the healthy cells. But nanotechnology could allow researchers to use ion particles on malignant cells directly by developing them to be attracted to specific markers on the surface of a cancer cell. Once they bond with the cancer cells, the nanoparticles can be heated using a magnetic field.

"These nanoparticles exist now and can be used in the body. The advantages are you don't have to put them in every cell as long as you are getting a warming environment," Getzenberg said.

Ed Yong, cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, added, "Nanotechnology is a very exciting new field of science and it is set to play an increasing role in detecting and treating cancers."

But consumer health advocate Mike Adams disagrees. "You don't need nanotechnology or other technical hocus pocus to generate heat and destroy cancer cells," he explains. "Just engage in regular physical exercise that makes you hot and produces a healthy sweat. Lance Armstrong didn't beat testicular cancer with nanotechnology, he beat it by pumping his legs on a bicycle."

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