Treatment helps to destroy breast cancer cells

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- More than 232,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

When treatments fail and the cancer comes back patients are often left with few options.

Now, a new therapy is heating up tumors.

Two years ago doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure.

"There's not a lot of drugs that work, or work for a long period of time," said Ridgeway

The mom of two was facing a typical life expectancy of just three years.

"That's a mom's horror story, knowing that you aren't going to be here," said Ridgeway

Lisa had surgery, radiation and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times.

Now she's trying something new. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are offering patients hyperthermia treatment.

"Hyperthermia is heat therapy. It's actually been around since the time of the Egyptians," said Dr. Jennifer Yu, a Radiation Oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

A hot bag is placed on top of the skin and a microwave unit heats the bag and the tissue under it to about 110 degrees. The heat increases blood flow and makes tumors more sensitive to radiation.

“It improves cell kill," said Dr. Yu

Typically, treatments last one hour and are performed one to two times a week.

Hyperthermia is also used in other cancers such as melanomas, gynecologic cancers, and head and neck cancers.

Dr. Yu says there are about 10 centers around the country using hyperthermia for breast cancer.

In one study 66 percent of cancer patients who had hyperthermia and radiation had their tumors shrink completely compared to just 42 percent who had only radiation.

Lisa hopes the treatment will give her more time.


REPORT: MB # 3763

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer refers to when cancer forms somewhere in breast tissue, commonly beginning in the lining of the milk ducts. Breast cancer can also originate in the milk glands, called lobules, and is considered to be invasive when the cancer spreads to surrounding healthy tissue from where it first began. With more than 200,000 new cases diagnosed in 2013 alone, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. Men can also have breast cancer, but it is highly unusual and only 2,240 men were diagnosed with the disease in 2013. (Source:
RISK FACTORS: Certain lifestyle choices and hereditary factors can raise women's risk of developing breast cancer. In particular, women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a significantly higher likelihood of breast and ovarian cancer. Women now have the choice of being tested for these genes so that they can take preventative measures. Starting your period before age 12 or menopause after age 55 can also raise women's risk and the likelihood of breast cancer is naturally higher as women age. While these risk factors are out of people's control, women can control other factors such as weight, alcohol consumption, and use of birth control. (Source:
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Doctors now have a new option to help treat breast cancer called hyperthermia. Essentially a heat therapy, hyperthermia is used in conjunction with chemotherapy to help kill cancer cells. A bag is placed over the tumor, and microwaves heat it up to about 110 degrees. The heat improves blood flow in and around the tumor, allowing the radiation to target cancer stem cells which help the tumor grow. Generally patients receive one to two one hour long hyperthermia treatments a week, along with their radiation treatments. (Dr. Jennifer Yu,

Tora Vinci
Media Relations Manager
Cleveland Clinic

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 255692611 -
Gray Television, Inc.