Malignant tumor (cancer) accounts for the highest mortality rate in Japan, and its increased incidence is observed over the years. One of the contributing factors for tumor (cancer) development is the transition to longevity society, and at present, 1 in 2 people in Japan is reported to develop cancer, and 1 in 3 people in Japan are reported to die of cancer. The primary examples of cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, and these standard treatments are prioritized for individual cases of cancer depending on factors such as tissue types. Normally, standard treatment suitable for the tissue type is performed as initial treatment; however, there are cases in which surgery is contraindicated, or there are cases that do not respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy (including cases where recurrence or regrowth is observed even if treatments were considered effective initially). Moreover, in the current aging society, indication of standard treatment may be difficult considering the possible occurrence of risks such as cancer-related complications. Several cases of cancers do not respond to various multidisciplinary treatments, and this may lead to progression and metastasis that cause the quality of life (QOL) to deteriorate, resulting in life-threatening situations. For these reasons, there is an increasing demand for new treatment options for cancer aside from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
Hyperthermia has been expected to become a new treatment for cancer under these circumstances. The principle of the treatment is to apply heat on the cancer cells, thereby exterminating these cancer cells. Cancer cells are known to undergo cell death more rapidly than healthy tissues when heat is applied artificially at the temperature above 42.5°C. Hyperthermia uses this phenomenon to treat cancer. Unlike radiotherapy and chemotherapy, hyperthermia is expected to generally show efficacy regardless of the types of cancer and is associated with low risks of adverse reactions. For these reasons, it has attracted attention and has been implemented as a type of multidisciplinary treatment.
As a treatment subsequent to hyperthermia, Dr. Andras Szasz from Hungary developed the theories and technology of oncothermia, which allows the treatment of tumors located in the deeper parts of the body with higher efficacy and less energy, and this was later implemented as oncothermia treatment. Oncothermia is practiced in the clinical settings in 30 countries including Germany, Hungary, and Korea; however, unfortunately, the device for this treatment is not yet approved in Japan. For this reason, this research meeting was established to collect and share the clinical results of oncothermia in Japan and analyze its clinical efficacy so that oncothermia will be considered as an option in the treatment of cancer in the near future.
It is our hope that oncothermia will be beneficial in overcoming cancer, a disorder that is a matter of life or death for the patients, or in maintaining a better QOL to the possible extent. We will exert our best effort together with the other healthcare members to make a steady progress in results so that we, as medical professionals, along with the device we use, are able to stand close by the suffering of cancer patients.
Chairman of Japan Oncothermia Research Meeting