Principles, applications, risks and benefits of therapeutic hyperthermia

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3:1169-81. doi: 10.2741/e320.


Hyperthermia as a heat therapy is the procedure of raising the temperature of a part of or the whole body above normal for a certain period of time. Based largely on delivery methods, therapeutic hyperthermia falls under three major categories: local, regional, and whole-body. It may be applied alone or jointly with other modalities such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, radiochemotherapy, and gene therapy. Because of the individual characteristics of each type of treatment, different types of heating systems have evolved. This paper provides an overview of possible mechanisms of heat-induced cell death and the way heating exerts its beneficial effect. It also discusses various heating devices as well as other modalities used with hyperthermia. The paper concludes with a summary of benefits and risks, obstacles encountered in the treatment process, and future research directions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Risk Assessment