(WECT) - People have used heat therapy to heal various diseases for hundreds of years, and now the Cleveland Clinic is using hyperthermia to heal cancer tumors.
In general, hyperthermia means a body temperature that is higher than normal, but can also be used for medical purposes if carefully controlled.
Eight years ago, Diane Trepka learned she had breast cancer and was given five months to live. She beat the odds, but last year her cancer returned.
"It came back as a rash on the incision site," said Diane.
It was actually a small cluster of tumors. She'd been told she couldn't have radiation therapy a second time, which is not true. The Cleveland Clinic is now using hyperthermia for patients with recurrent cancer like Diane.
"We utilize this in conjunction with radiation when we're trying to maximize the effect in a local area of concern," said Radiation Oncologist Dr. Justin Juliano.
The device was placed over Diane's tumor site and emits targeted and controlled heat - about 106º.
The heat actually killed some tumor cells, but the main purpose was to get blood and oxygen to the tumor site, which makes radiation work better.
"Where I was after four and half to five months of chemotherapy, where the tumors started to fade, I was there in eight treatments," said Diane. "I could see the fading process."
Diane and her husband are amazed and intend on beating the cancer, once again.