SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – We begin our 5-part series on a type of cancer treatment that is having a resurgence and giving patients with few options a lot of hope.
Interstitial hyperthermia is a medical treatment that’s been around a long time. It’s heating the cancer tumor to a precise temperature and killing it. Researchers have found combining that heat with radiation can be a lethal blow to cancer.
Kip Robinson, 66, from Magna, was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago. Now the advanced cancer is back.
“We’re putting the dose right where it needs to be,” said Dr. John Hayes.
“I’m afraid there’s a lot of life to live,” said Robinson.
That means spending time with his four grandkids, continuing his love for skiing and softball.
He was even inducted into the Utah Softball Hall of Fame this past summer.
Robinson is getting a dose of brachytherapy, which is a type of radiation therapy, along with hyperthermia treatment at Gamma West Cancer Services located next to St. Mark’s Hospital.
Dr. John Hayes is the medical director at the treatment center and an expert at medically heating and killing cancer.
“We can put the radiation dose in a small area accurately. We can heat it up to 43 degrees for an hour with temperature probes and heat that temperature for an hour,” said Hayes.
43 degrees Celsius or nearly 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is hot, but not enough to destroy the surrounding tissue.
“Traditional hyperthermia is the warming of the tumor so that both radiation and chemo and the immune system can do a better job at eradicating the tumor.”
77-year-old Janis has 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 grand kids.
“The challenge is doing it well and getting the tissue heated,” said Janis.
Many on staff here are skilled at this specific medical treatment. It’s not topical heat but multiple probes inserted into the body and tumors.
“They are my heroes. They’re fighting this battle with me. I feel good about this whole process,” said Janis.
Dr. Hayes says recent studies have shown hyperthermia is a helper. He says it opens blood vessels and brings oxygen to the tissues to make chemo or radiation more potent in killing cancer.
“I’ve seen patients who have had no hope and when we apply this treatment in conjunction with brachytherapy, tumors disappear and they get their life back,” said Dr. Hayes.
Dr. Hayes says not only their life back but some are thriving. They see a lot of these miracles. Many of the patients he sees are in advanced stages with little hope for a cure but we’re going to meet a couple of patients tomorrow who have defied the odds in part 2.
Click here for more of Dr. John Hayes’ interview:
Click here for full interview with Kip while undergoing treatment: