Frequently Asked Questions

cancer-questions-los-angelesQ: What is Hyperthermia?

Hyperthermia, also known as thermal therapy or thermotherapy, is the application of localized heat to the tumor area at a temperature of 113°F or 42.5°C. Heat is known to be damaging to cancer cells, while generally safe to the surrounding normal tissue. The process is simple: heat increases blood circulation, hence oxygenation of the cells, and oxygen is harmful to cancer cells. Studies show that hyperthermia is most effective in conjunction with other forms of cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy.

Applying hyperthermia with radiation treatment can potentially improve results. This approach has been approved by the FDA since 1984, and prior to that many studies have been performed in leading medical institutions around the globe.

Q: What type of cancer can be treated with Hyperthermia alongside low-dose radiation?

Bicher Cancer Institute has treated a broad range of patients for many different forms of cancer, with particularly successful results with breast cancer and IBC (inflammatory breast cancer). Some of the most common forms of cancer treated with hyperthermia at Bicher Cancer Institute in Los Angeles include:

Q: What stages of cancer can be treated at Bicher Cancer Institute?

At Bicher Cancer Institute, the average success rate for early stages of breast cancer, including inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), prostate, and head and neck cancer has typically been approximately 80%. The average 5 year survival rate is also approximately 80%.

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Q: Are there any side effects from hyperthermia cancer treatment?

The side effects of hyperthermia are generally minimal compared with other cancer treatments. Some of the potential side effects of hyperthermia in conjunction with low-dose radiation may include:

  • Redness of skin after treatment
  • Fatigue
  • Temporary loss of taste, and dryness of throat for head and neck cancer patients

The common side effects of conventional treatment for prostate cancer can include:

  • Impotence
  • Loss of libido
  • Incontinence
  • Diarrhea

However with hyperthermia and low-dose radiation, prostate cancer patients do not typically experience the same side effects as a result of treatment. In fact, approximately a third of Bicher Cancer Insitute prostate cancer patients reported an increase in libido.

Q: Is treatment covered by insurance?

Most private insurance companies and Medicare cover some portion of hyperthermia treatment at Bicher Cancer Institute. Consult Bicher Cancer Institute and consult with your individual insurance provider to learn more about what services are covered under your policy.

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Q: How do results for hyperthermia compare with conventional therapies like surgery, high-dose radiation and chemotherapy?

The success rate of hyperthermia combined with low-dose radiation can be as much as 3-4 times higher than conventional treatment for some patients, as well as overall survival rate in general.

Q:What is the level of expertise at Bicher Cancer Institute?

The hyperthermia and oncology experts at Bicher Cancer Institute in Los Angeles have been in practice since 1984. The clinic is one of the largest hyperthermia treatment facilities in America. Dr. Bicher , the founder and director of Bicher Cancer Institute, is one of the pioneers in using hyperthermia in conjunction with low-dose radiation to treat cancer. Dr. Bicher has published over 200 papers, many of which are related to hyperthermia cancer treatment in particular.

Q: How do you apply radiation for treatment?

Low-dose Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is targeted radiation that contours the size and shape of the tumor from different angles. This approach allows radiation to directly treat the tumor itself and avoid touching healthy surrounding tissues.

Q: What is the treatment like and how much time does each hyperthermia and radiation session take?

Hyperthermia treatment takes approximately 45 minutes per session. Hyperthermia treatment is very gentle and can be soothing for patients due to the application of heat.

During the application of hyperthermia treatment, patients can relax and enjoy normal activities including:

  • Rest
  • Sleep
  • Talk to a friend or family member in the treatment room
  • Read a book
  • Eat
  • Listen to music

The radiation treatment is typically administered within one hour of receiving hyperthermia, and usually lasts about 15 minutes. On average, a patient will spend about an hour and a half to two hours per session at the clinic for treatment.

Q: Can a patient work while undergoing hyperthermia treatment at Bicher Cancer Institute?

Although it depends on the individual patient and his/her circumstances, many Bicher Cancer Institute patients continue with their regular work schedule. In fact, patients are encouraged to continue with their normal lifestyles including exercising, and social and community activities with friends and loved ones.

Contact Bicher Cancer Institute today for more information on hyperthermia and low dose radiation for cancer treatment in Los Angeles.

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“Fighting cancer with heat is no secret.
But it is an untouched weapon that holds remarkable potential.”

Headshot of James Bicher
James I. Bicher, MD
Founder & CEO,
Bicher Cancer Institute


Are you considering hyperthermia treatment for cancer? Contact the experts at Bicher Cancer Institute today to schedule an appointment or get the answers to any questions you still have.

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