Thermal dose determination in cancer therapy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1984 Jun;10(6):787-800. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(84)90379-1.


With the rapid development of clinical hyperthermia for the treatment of cancer either alone or in conjunction with other modalities, a means of measuring a thermal dose in terms which are clinically relevant to the biological effect is needed. A comparison of published data empirically suggests a basic relationship that may be used to calculate a "thermal dose." From a knowledge of the temperature during treatment as a function of time combined with a mathematical description of the time-temperature relationship, an estimate of the actual treatment calculated as an exposure time at some reference temperature can be determined. This could be of great benefit in providing a real-time accumulated dose during actual patient treatment. For the purpose of this study, a reference temperature of 43 degrees C has been arbitrarily chosen to convert all thermal exposures to "equivalent-minutes" at this temperature. This dose calculation can be compared to an integrated calculation of the "degree-minutes" to determine its prognostic ability. The time-temperature relationship upon which this equivalent dose calculation is based does not predict, nor does it require, that different tissues have the same sensitivity to heat. A computer program written in FORTRAN is included for performing calculations of both equivalent-minutes (t43) and degree-minutes (tdm43). Means are provided to alter the reference temperature, the Arrhenius "break" temperature and the time-temperature relationship both above and below the "break" temperature. In addition, the effect of factors such as step-down heating, thermotolerance, and physiological conditions on thermal dose calculations are discussed. The equations and methods described in this report are not intended to represent the only approach for thermal dose estimation; instead, they are intended to provide a simple but effective means for such calculations for clinical use and to stimulate efforts to evaluate data in terms of therapeutically useful thermal units.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Software
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors