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May 17, 1976

Heat as Cancer Therapy

Author Affiliations

National Cancer Institute Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1976;235(20):2223-2224. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260460043023

Recent clinical reports of hyperthermic tumor regression revitalize an old interest in heat as an anticancer therapy. The clinical observations are supported by experimental data demonstrating that hyperthermia as a single modality kills tumor cells in animal models and in vitro. While the mechanism of injury is imperfectly understood, it is clear that heat induces selective lethal injury to malignant cells, and that this effect is critically dependent on temperature and time of heat exposure. Giovanella et al1 found that temperatures from 37 to 40 C had little effect on the viability and subsequent ability to metastasize of L1210 leukemia cells, whereas temperatures higher than 41 C killed the tumor cells. Palzer and Heidelberger2 further defined a critical temperature-time relationship in the 41.0 to 43.0 C temperature range using HeLa cells. Overgaard and Overgaard3 showed that temperatures of 41.5 to 43.5 C destroyed mouse mammary-tumor implants without