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Hyperthermia combined with radiation therapy for primarily unresectable and recurrent colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan.


The value of adjuvant hyperthermia to radiotherapy in the treatment of locally advanced colorectal cancers was investigated. Between 1981 and 1989, 71 primarily unresectable or recurrent colorectal tumors were treated with radiotherapy at the Department of Radiology, Kyoto University Hospital. Of the 71 tumors, 35 were treated with radiotherapy plus hyperthermia (group I), while 36 tumors (group II) were unsuitable for hyperthermia mainly because of difficulties with the insertion of temperature probes or the thickness of the patient's subcutaneous fat (greater than 2 cm). The mean total radiation dose was 58 Gy and 57 Gy for groups I and II, respectively. Thirty deep-seated pelvic tumors were treated with an 8 MHz radiofrequency capacitive heating device, and five subsurface tumors were treated with a 430 MHz microwave hyperthermia system. Hyperthermia was given following radiotherapy for 30-60 min for a total of 2-14 sessions (mean 5.7). In 32 of the 35 tumors heated, direct measurement of tumor temperature was performed. For the five tumors treated with the microwave heating device, the means of the mean maximum, average, and minimum measured intratumoral temperatures were 45.4 degrees C, 43.3 degrees C, and 40.6 degrees C, respectively. The corresponding values were 42.2 degrees C, 41.3 degrees C, and 40.3 degrees C for the 27 tumors treated with the capacitive heating device. Effective heating of deep-seated pelvic tumors was more difficult than heating of abdominal wall or perineal tumors. The local control rate at 6 months after the treatment, which was defined as absence of local progression of the tumors, was 59% (17/29) and 37% (11/30) for groups I and II, respectively. The objective tumor response rate (complete regression plus partial response) evaluated by computed tomography was 54% (19/35) in group I, whereas it was 36% (10/28) in group II. A better response rate of 67% was obtained in the 15 tumors with a mean average tumor temperature of greater than 42 degrees C. Although limitation of our current heating devices exist, the combination of hyperthermia with radiotherapy is a promising treatment modality in the treatment of locally advanced colorectal cancer.

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