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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Thermal therapy techniques for skin and superficial tissue disease
Author(s): Paul R. Stauffer

Paper Abstract

There are numerous diseases and abnormal growths and conditions that afflict the skin and underlying superficial tissues. In addition to cancers such as primary, recurrent, and metastatic melanomas and carcinomas, there are many non-malignant conditions such as psoriasis plaques, port wine stains, warts, and superficial cut and bum wounds. Many of these clinical conditions have been shown responsive to treatment with thermal therapy - either low temperature freezing (cryotherapy),. moderate temperature warming to about 41-45°C (hyperthermia), or high temperature (>50°C) ablation or coagulation necrosis therapy. Because both very low and very high temperature therapies are for the most part non-selectively destructive in nature, they normally are used for applications where therapy can be localized precisely in the desired target and some necrosis of adjacent normal tissues is acceptable. With the exception of precision controlled cryotherapy or laser surgery (e.g. wart, mole, tattoo and port wine stain removal) or focal thermal surgery of small deep-seated nodules, it is generally preferred to use moderate thermal therapy (hyperthermia) in the treatment of skin and subcutaneous tissue disease in order to preserve the protective barrier characteristic of intact skin within the target region while inducing more subtle long term therapeutic improvement in the disease condition. This type of subtle thermal therapy is usually administered in combination with one or more other therapies such as radiation or chemotherapy - something with a differential effect on the target and surrounding normal tissues that can be magnified by the adjuvant use of heat.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 January 2000
PDF: 41 pages
Proc. SPIE 10297, Matching the Energy Source to the Clinical Need: A Critical Review, 102970E (24 January 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.375215
Show Author Affiliations
Paul R. Stauffer, Univ. of California/San Francisco (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10297:
Matching the Energy Source to the Clinical Need: A Critical Review
Thomas P. Ryan, Editor(s)

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