Futuristic Microwave May Treat Cervical Cancer
Microwave Hyperthermia Could Add Power to Chemo/Radiation Treatment
Sept. 7, 2005 - Microwave heat -- delivered by a futuristic machine -- may one day become part of the standard treatment for advanced cervical cancer.
The finding comes from 68 cervical cancer patients treated in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Norway. All patients were treated with state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radiation treatment. They were also treated with a special microwave that heated their pelvic regions to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ninety percent of the patients had a complete remission of their cancer. A year and a half later, 84% were still alive, Anneke M. Westermann, MD, PhD, of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues report in the Aug. 15 issue of Cancer.
That's pretty good, says cervical cancer expert Wui-Jin Koh, MD, professor of radiation oncology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle. Koh was not involved in the clinical trial.
"If you look at chemoradiation by itself, you would say the five-year overall survival rate for advanced cervical cancer would be percentages in the high 60s to low 70s," Koh tells WebMD. "That is at five years. So the question is whether their median survival of 84% at a year and a half will hold."
Hyperthermia isn't new. It's been known for years that cancer cells die at high body temperatures. The FDA has already approved microwave treatment for superficial cancers on or near the skin.