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Other Cancer Therapies

There are other cancer therapies that have been around for a long time.


One such observation was that an artificial fever would break up more of the fragile cancer cells, but leave the normal cells intact (hyperthermia treatment). Some physicians and patients hoped that this would be the new panacea of nontoxic cancer treatment. However, it is not. Hyperthermia treatment can have a place in cancer therapy similar to immunotherapy.

But it has its limits and will only create a response rate and survival advantage of about 25% in advanced cancer of the cervix cases when combined with radiotherapy (Ref.9). In cases of liver cancer the authors of Ref. 10 showed that local hyperthermia at the resection edge immediately following surgical removal of part of the liver will lead to a 25% to 117% increase of survival times when compared to controls who received surgery alone.

 Other Cancer Therapies (Hyperthermia)

Other Cancer Therapies (Hyperthermia)

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy for bladder cancer, lung cancer and esophageal cancer is a newer technique since the mid 1980’s where hematoporphyrin compounds are used as a sensitizer and a strong light with a certain wavelength is employed to release cancer toxic compounds locally.

This is not a cure all, but some cancers that could not previously have been treated show a good response rate now. For instance, Patients with cancer of the entrance of the vagina(vulvar cancer) who are difficult to treat, responded well to photodynamic therapy, although deeper lesions still needed to be treated conservatively( see Ref. 11). On the other hand inoperable bronchogenic cancer (lung cancer) can be treated safely with photogenic therapy( Ref. 12) and allow patients to have a better quality of life in their last days of inoperable cancer. Those who were in an earlier stage had a somewhat better survival rate. There are other papers in the literature that I did not cite here, which point out that palliative care of Kaposi sarcoma in AIDS patients, palliative bladder cancer treatment or palliative care in breast cancer with skin metastases would include photodynamic therapy. The physician might combine this with other treatment modalities.


It is a new type of chemotherapy directly interfering with cell division. It does so by interfering with the normal spindle formation within a dividing cell. As cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells, it affects mostly these cells. Historically the first taxanes were vinblastine and vincristine. They were used for leukemias and lymphomas, but later were found also useful in solid tumors as well.

Some of the taxanes used against cancer in humans

Name of taxane: Clinically used for:
vinblastine lymphomas, breast cancer, leukemias, testicular cancer, Ewing sarcoma
vincristine same application as vinblastine
vinorelbine lung and breast cancer
paclitaxel used for lung cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, germ cell cancers, lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma


Taxanes are derived from the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia. Eventually the active ingredient paclitaxel was isolated. This is now produced semisynthetically from the European yew, which is more abundant, and supply no longer is a problem. Various other taxanes are listed above as well along with their clinical applications (Ref. 13, 14).



1. JK McLaughlin et al. Int J Cancer 1995 Jan 17; 60(2): 190-193.

2. GN Wogan Semin Cancer Biol 2000 Jun 10(3): 201-210.

3. L Garfinkel et al. Stat Bull Metrop Insur Co 1999 Jul-Sep;80(3): 23-32.

4. G Torres-Mejiha et al. Int J Cancer 2000 Sep 15;87(6): 869-873.

5. M Feuring-Buske et al. Ann Hematol 2000 Apr 79(4): 167-174.

6. RJ Kreitman et al. J Clin Oncol 2000 APR 18(8): 1622-36.

7. SA Rosenberg et al. Ann Surg 1998 Sep 228(3): 307-319.

8. K Fujita et al. Clin. Cancer Res 1995 May 1(5): 501-507.

9. J van der Zee et al. Lancet 2000 Apr1; 355(9210): 1119-1125.

10. H Ge and J Huang J Surg Oncol 2000 Jul 74(3): 193-195.

11. P Hillemanns et al. Int J Cancer 2000 March 1; 85(5): 649-653.

12. K Moghissi et al. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 1999 Jan 15(1): 1-6.

13. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology.4th edition. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott, Philadelphia,PA, 1993. Chapter 70:”Unsound methods of cancer treatment”, page 2734 -2747.

14. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. The data from the tables on p. 236-237 were condensed and the figures rounded off to the nearest full number.

15. C Dong et al. Int J Cancer 2001 Apr 1;92(1):144-150.

16. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness– Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008

Last modified: September 20, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.