Jefferson University Hospitals

Thermal Oncology Program

The Thermal Oncology Program within Jefferson’s Department of Radiation Oncology features the high-quality patient care, clinical expertise and innovative therapy that have led U.S.News & World Report to rank Thomas Jefferson University Hospital among the nation’s Best Hospitals for cancer treatment. Our program provides therapeutic use of heat (hyperthermia) with radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.

Improves Cancer Patient Outcomes

Many phase II and phase III clinical trials have shown that when combined with radiation or chemotherapy, moderate temperature elevations achieved with hyperthermia:

  • Improve patient outcomes for a wide range of malignancies, including but not limited to cancers of the breast, cervix, bladder, prostate, head and neck, melanoma, and sarcoma.
  • Enhance radiation through complementary effects on tumors.
  • Augment the effects of chemotherapy in a number of different ways.
  • Increase blood flow to tumors, which also helps to enhance radiation effects and delivery of chemotherapy.
  • Improve outcomes without increasing side effects.

And, research has also shown that moderate temperature elevation achieved with hyperthermia can help target an immune-specific response against tumors. Jefferson is leading the way in the development of trials in this rapidly emerging field.

Carefully Controlled for Patients’ Comfort

Jefferson now offers superficial hyperthermia treatments with the BSD-500, an FDA-approved hyperthermia system that delivers carefully controlled heat directly into the tumor. These treatments produce a mild increase in temperature that is well tolerated by patients. To help ensure this, temperature sensors are placed on the skin surface or subcutaneously in the treated area.

Patients receive hyperthermia treatment once or twice a week with radiation or with each chemotherapy cycle. This noninvasive procedure is administered over one hour, immediately following radiation or chemotherapy.

Distinguished Staff

Jefferson’s Thermal Oncology Program brings together the collective experience of three members of our Department of Radiation Oncology who are all past presidents of the Society for Thermal Medicine, a premier, international scientific forum for the study of clinical, biological and physical applications of thermal therapy.

Mark Hurwitz, MD, Professor and Vice Chair for Quality, Safety and Performance Excellence and Director of Thermal Oncology; Paul R. Stauffer, MSEE, CCE, Professor and Director of Thermal Oncology Physics; and Dennis B. Leeper, PhD, Professor and Division Director, Laboratory of Experimental Radiation Oncology and Division of Radiation Biology. Together, they offer unparalleled expertise in the clinical delivery and scientific advancement of thermal therapy for the benefit of cancer patients.

Our staff collaborates with renowned clinicians and researchers throughout the multidisciplinary Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center.

To refer patients to Jefferson’s Thermal Oncology Program, or for more information, please call Dr. Hurwitz at 215-955-7876.

You can also call our physician referral line – 215-503-8888, or speak to a Jefferson Physician Liaison at 215-503-9280.