Inducing hyperthermia in a tumor can allow treating physicians to enhance the effects of chemotherapy or achieve the same therapeutic outcome with lower doses of chemotherapy to minimize the treatment’s adverse effects.

Focused ultrasound can bolster the effects of chemotherapeutics in a number of ways. First, through the effects of local hyperthermia, greater concentrations of drugs can be delivered to tumors. Second, the increase of blood flow due to the hyperthermia also increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the tumors. This increases the metabolic activity of the tumor cells and enhances the cytotoxicity of the drug. In addition, it has been shown that cells that have acquired resistance to a particular drug can be made vulnerable again after ultrasound treatment. Finally, local hyperthermia also weakens the tumor due to its reduced ability to dissipate heat, making the tumor more susceptible to chemotherapy yet leaving healthy tissue unaffected.

Focused ultrasound provides a radiation-free, noninvasive method of inducing local hyperthermia. The synergy between chemotherapy and focused ultrasound could allow for more effective chemotherapeutic treatments of cancer with diminished side effects. Established methods of coupling hyperthermia with chemotherapy have been proven effective in preclinical work with ovarian and cervical cancer, however, this mechanism may be beneficial for any cancer that is responsive to chemotherapy.

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