SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) — There is one company cancer centers go to for highly technical hyperthermia machines. That company is based right here in the Salt Lake Valley.
Pyrexar Medical claims hyperthermia treatment can double the effectiveness of radiation and chemo.
“This started in 1978 in Salt Lake City,” said Paul Turner.
Pyrexar Medical took over the business in recent years. They manufacture medical equipment used to give people with cancer a second chance at life. These machines are located in Cancer Treatment Centers of America, hospitals nationwide and right here at Gamma West Cancer Services in Salt Lake.
Turner is the Chief Technology Officer at Pyrexar.
“We’re the only ones in the world that have developed this type of technology,” said Turner.
They continue to make advances in their hyperthermia machines.
“We use phased array technology. This is where we use an array of antenna that surrounds the body from all different directions in a heated area where the tumor’s at. We have large versions for the whole body to treat pelvic tumors, abdominal tumors as well as tumors of the leg,” said Turner.
Advancements in technology allowed Pyrexar to integrate heat focused technology with MRIs to treat tumors deep in the body using FM frequency.
“We normally install the equipment in a metal screened room so we don’t interfere with FM 100,” said Turner.
Only a handful of institutions in the U.S. use this advanced upgraded hyperthermia treatment compared to 250 plus in Europe and Asia.
Berlin was one of the earliest adopters of hyperthermia.
ABC4 spoke with professor and medical doctor Peter Wust from Charitè Universitätsmedizin Berlin via Skype from Germany.
“In 88 we started with deep hyperthermia at the time it was the most modern system in Europe and in the world,” said Wust.
In the U.S, getting these machines into cancer centers have been challenging but we’re starting to see a resurgence.
“This company in Salt Lake didn’t give up,” said Dr. Hayes with Gamma West.
Dr. John Hayes with Gamma West is using Pyrexar’s hyperthermia equipment to fight Janis Buck’s cancer.
After exhausting other traditional treatments she’s undergoing hyperthermia for lung and bladder cancer, she’s hoping to live a bit longer.
“I’ve bribed my doctors to have me healthy enough to enjoy my Christmas with all my grandkids this year,” said Janis.
She has 11 of them including 18 great grandkids.
“The challenge with hyperthermia is doing it well and getting the actual tissue heated,” said Dr. Hayes.
Heated at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, he says can double the effectiveness when used with other therapies.
“It’s a very powerful anti-cancer treatment used along with chemo or radiation therapy becomes a powerful tool,” said Dave Vincent, CEO of Gamma West Cancer Services.
Dave Vincent CEO of Gamma West Cancer Services says they’ve been confident in this treatment from the beginning.
“More studies need to be done but this treatment should not be swept under the rug,” said Vincent.
“Many institutions gave up because it was hard to do,” said Dr. Hayes.
But Gamma West stuck with it to help people just like Janis.
“We wanted to provide a therapy for people who may have exhaustive treatment and didn’t have a whole lot of outlook,” said Vincent.
“They are my heroes. They’re fighting this battle with me,” said Janis.
So now the question becomes, why aren’t more hospitals using hyperthermia as a helper to make radiation and chemo more effective? In some cases, it doubles your chancege of survival? We are diving into that question Friday night.
Click here for Drew’s full interview via Skype:
Click here, Paul Turner, Chief Technology Officer, explains advanced hyperthermia machine: