Tumors in the uterus mostly arise in the glandular lining and are endometrial adenocarcinomas (endometrial cancer). Benign (leiomyomas) and malignant tumors (leiomyosarcomas) can occur in the uterine smooth muscle and have very different clinical features. Over 60,000 new uterine cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
High exposure to estrogens (either in women who produce extra estrogen or if given as a drug) is a key risk factor for the development of endometrial tumors. Because estrogen is produced in fat calls, obese women, women treated with postmenopausal estrogens or women with estrogen-producing tumors are at higher risk for endometrial cancer. Long-term treatment with tamoxifen is also associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. By contrast, progesterone and other hormones in that class are protective against endometrial cancer. Prognosis depends on stage, histologic grade, and depth of myometrial invasion.
Most women with tumors of the uterus present with postmenopausal vaginal bleeding due to shedding of the malignant (cancerous) endometrial lining. Premenopausal women often will present with bleeding between menstrual cycles. These signs typically bring a woman to the attention of their primary care provider or gynecologist. Diagnosis is typically by endometrial biopsy.
The application of hyperthermia to a tumor can have numerous positive effects on cancer cells. Heat disrupts cell membranes and increases blood flow to the tumor, making the tumor more sensitive and vulnerable both to your body’s natural immune defenses and to other cancer therapies.
Research has demonstrated that hyperthermia, when combined with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy, improves outcomes in patients with endometrial cancer. Hyperthermia can be added to endometrial cancer treatment plan at any time.
Optimally, hyperthermia treatment is initiated as soon as the patient begins receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Improving your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that lead to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without risking sensitive surrounding organs.
The studies cited above include traditional hyperthermia treatments which are applied near the surface of the body. However, they also include data from studies using Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). HIPEC is a procedure where heated chemotherapy is infused directly into the abdominal cavity at the time of surgery for endometrial cancer. This one-time heating has been demonstrated to improve outcomes. The technology used at HCI is externally applied hyperthermia, using ultrasound technology, that is delivered over several treatments.