Microwave hyperthermia systems for cancer treatment

The aim is to tackle the challenge of adequately heating deep-seated tumours, while preventing surrounding healthy tissue from undesired heating and damage.

Objectives
  • Develop prototypes of hyperthermia systems with superior performance for a range of tumour sites
  • Design and develop cutting-edge systems and algorithms for microwave-based cancer treatment
  • Develop implementations of focusing algorithms suitable for industrial hyperthermia systems

Motivation
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, preceded only by cardiovascular diseases. Although the total tumour mortality is falling, the degree of success and progress in cancer treatment is somewhat disappointing and does not correspond to the large resources invested. It is thus clear that to improve the cancer curerates, the conventional oncological methods need to be combined with new treatment modalities. The ability of hyperthermia to dramatically enhance tumour control rates and even increase patient survival rates for most common cancer  types has been demonstrated in recent years. Swedish patients treated with hyperthermia are currently treated abroad, which foremost represents a burden for the patients, but also an economical burden for the Swedish society.

During the last decade, clinical research has demonstrated the ability of microwave hyperthermia to dramatically enhance the response to radiation therapy and chemotherapy, leading to increased cancer patient survival. These encouraging results have been achieved with technology and algorithms that are susceptible to improvement and are, therefore, at least partly, limited with respect to cancer forms and tumour positions.

Although there are positive clinical results, present industrial state-of-the-art microwave hyperthermia treatment systems suffer from inability to adequately heat tumours in all regions of the body. We believe that this is partly due to limitations in technology and focusing algorithms. The fundamental challenge for these systems lies in their limited focusing ability and the consequential inability to heat deep-seated tumours, while preventing surrounding healthy tissue from undesired heating and damage. A main cause for this is the use of singlefrequency excitation in the range between 70 and 130 MHz. While electromagnetic waves in this frequency range are capable of the high penetration depths required for deep-seated tumours, their relative long wavelengths do not give the centimetre-scale spatial control needed to prevent heating of healthy tissue, in turn forcing power levels to be limited.

Research partners
Ampleon, Chalmers, Elekta, VGR

Project Leader
Assistant Prof. Hana Dobsicek Trefna

Published: Wed 10 Oct 2018.