Hyperthermia (HT) - heating the tumor in the range of 40.0 – 44.0 °C - combined with radiation (RT) and/or chemotherapy (CT) is a well proven treatment for malignant tumors. The improvement of the techniques for monitoring and adapting of the desired temperatures even in deep seated tumors has led to a renaissance of, now quality-controlled, HT in multimodal tumor therapy approaches. Randomized clinical trials have shown improved disease-free survival and local tumor control without an increase in toxicity for the combined treatment. In this review, we will focus on biological rationales of HT comprising direct cytotoxicity, systemic effects, chemosensitization, radiosensitization, and immune modulation. The latter is a prerequisite for the control of recurrent tumors and micrometastases. Immunogenic tumor cell death forms induced by HT will be introduced. Modulations of the cytotoxic properties of chemotherapeutic agents by HT as well as synergistic effects of HT with RT will be presented in the context of the main aims of anti-tumor therapy. Furthermore, modern techniques for thermal mapping like magnet resonance imaging will be outlined. The effectiveness of HT will be demonstrated by reviewing recent clinical trials applying HT in addition to CT and/or RT. We conclude that hyperthermia is a very potent radio- as well as chemosensitizer, which fosters the induction of immunogenic dead tumor cells leading to local and in special cases also to systemic tumor control.
Keywords: Hyperthermia, radiotherapy, chemotherapeutics, immunogenic cell death, cancer, anti-tumor immunity, danger signals, magnetic resonance images
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