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Cancer Recovery


Oxygen therapies for cancer are based on a fact that they slow the cancer growth and propagation. Extra oxygen added to our body during the hyperbaric oxygen therapy will weaken the cancer cells and strengthen the healthy cells.


Breast Cancer and Lymphoedema

Early diagnosis and conventional treatments as well as prophylactic therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy now allow better survival odds and longer life expectancy for women with breast cancer.

Tumor does not like oxygen and its growth is slowed down in well oxygenated tissues. On the contrary, conventional cancer therapies such as radiation are only partly (about one third!) successful in poor oxygenated tissue. Therefore in rehabilitation after conventional surgical and radiation therapy a commonly used method to remedy hypoxic tissues has been hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT is also effective in healing the post radiation damage(wounds caused by radiation).

Approximately one-third of women who have had surgery (lumpectomy) and radiation treatment for breast cancer develop complications such as painful swelling of the arms and hands (lymphoedema) that can lead to disability.Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to restore tissue oxygen levels, reduce swelling, promoting the microcirculation (blood and lymphatic) and in turn improve healing of radiation wounds, control infectionreduce pain as well as boost the immune system and increase stem cells in circulation.  The mobilization of stem cells by hyperbaric oxygen shows promising results for cancer patients. In 2005 dr. Stephen Thom showed that one 90 minute hyperbaric oxygen sessions in oxygen flow chambers doubles the number of stem cells in the blood and 20 sessions increase the number to eight fold.

First controlled clinical studies in Germany found that in 32 out of 44 women who received surgery and radiation for breast cancer with lymphoedemashowed improvement with HBOT. Significant reduction in pain and in average of 25% but as much as 40% of swelling can be reduced with timely hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen improves the success of radiation and chemotherapy as well as minimizes the complications. Research shows that people with tissue cells deprived of oxygen had worse survival and more metastases than those who had higher oxygen levels in their tumors.

Radiation Damage

Radiation injury is damage to soft tissue and bone following radiation therapy.

There are early and late effects of radiation that are caused by ischemia, interruption of the blood supply and direct cell damage, which are sensitive to radiation.

Late effects of radiation that occur weeks and years later can be avoided with timely hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Soft tissue radiation injury:

  • Skin – skin damage (atrophy) and non-healing wounds
  • Genitourinary problems – radiation cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), proctitis (inflamma-tion of the rectum and anus) resulting in fistulas, abscesses, fibrosis and scar formation
  • Larynx – swelling, pain, difficulty swallowing and hoarseness

Bone radiation injury:

  • Bone cell destruction (osteoradionecrosis) – leading to spontaneous fractures, infections and delayed healing

Eye radiation injury:

  • Radiation-induced optic neuropathy – loss of vision

Clinical application of HBO

  • Helps in faster wound healing by formation of new microvasculature (angiogenesis)
  • Provides and prepares a better healthy tissue for skin grafts and dental implants if needed
  • Improves bone remodeling by stimulation new bone to growth (osteogenesis)
  • Prevents or arrests already existing infection
  • Prophylaxis – prevention of development delayed radiation injury

Results of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in radiation injury:

  • HBO increases tissue radio-sensitivity (enhancing the effect of radiation/chemo therapy)
  • HBO prevents delayed radiation injury (swelling, pain and wounds due to radiation)
  • HBO enhances the immune system
  • HBO promotes new vascular growth preparing conditions for skin/bone grafts and implants
  • HBO improves bone remodeling by stimulation of new bone growth and removal of necrotic bone
  • HBO prevents or arrests already existing infection
  • Improves oxygenation of all body organs

Treatment protocol:
Hyperbaric oxygen sessions are 90 minutes long at 2.4 ATA of pressure of pure oxygen. Number of sessions needed depend on the seriousness of the condition and response to the therapy, which can be assessed with measurements of microcirculation. At BaroMedical, the screening of the clients and the progress of the therapy are monitored with most advanced equipment: Laser Doppler blood flow, tissue oxygen monitor and digital camera.

Breast Cancer References:

  1. Feldmeier JJLange JDCox SDChou LJCiaravino V.: Hyperbaric oxygen as prophylaxis or treatment for radiation myelitis; Undersea Hyperb Med.1993 Sep;20(3):249-55
  2. Pritchard JAnand PBroome JDavis CGothard LHall EMaher JMcKinna FMillington JMisra VPPitkin AYarnold JR.: Double-blind randomized phase II study of hyperbaric oxygen in patients with radiation-induced brachial plexopathyRadiother Oncol. 2001 Mar;58(3):279-86.
  3. Gothard LStanton AMacLaren JLawrence DHall EMortimer PParkin EPritchard JRisdall JSawyer RWoods MYarnold J.: Non-randomised phase II trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in patients with chronic arm lymphoedema and tissue fibrosis after radiotherapy for early breast cancer;Radiother Oncol. 2004 Mar;70(3):217-24.
  4. Davis JC, Hunt TK (Eds). The Role Of Oxygen. New York: Elsevier, P232,1988.
  5. Carl UM, Feldmeier JJ, Schmitt G, Hartmann KA: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late sequelae in women receiving radiation after breast-conserving surgery,
  6. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys Mar 15, 49:1029-31, 2001.
  7. Hartmann KA, Carl UM, Sminia P, Lammering G, Becker KA, Schmitt GThe influence of inspiratory hyperoxia on ischemia-reperfusion-induced tumour growth delay; Oncol Rep 2000 Jan-Feb, 7:131-3
  8. Ashamalla, Hani; Hardy, Kevin; Goldwein, Joel; Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Radiation Necrosis; 2001
  9. Plafki C, Carl UM, Glag M, Hartmann KA: The treatment of late radiation effects with hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO);Strahlenther Onkol 1998 Nov, 174 Suppl 3:66-8
  10. Hartmann A, Almeling M, Carl UM: Hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO) in the treatment of radiogenic side effectsStrahlenther Onkol 1996 Dec, 172:641-8
  11. Milovanova TN, Bhopale VM, Sorokina EM, Moore JS, Hunt TK, Hauer-Jensen M, Velazquez OC, Thom SR., Hyperbaric oxygen stimulates vasculogenic stem cell growth and differentiation in vivo., J Appl Physiol. Feb;106(2):711-28,2009.
  12. Thom SR, Bhopale VM, Velazquez OC, Goldstein LJ, Thom LH, Buerk DG: Stem cell mobilization by hyperbaric oxygenAm J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. Apr;290(4):H1378-86, 2006.
  13. Mayer R, Hamilton-Farrell MR, van der Kleij AJ, Schmutz J, Granström G, Sicko Z, Melamed Y, Carl UM, Hartmann KA, Jansen EC, Ditri L, Sminia P:Hyperbaric oxygen and radiotherapy.: Strahlenther Onkol. Feb;181(2):113-23. Review, 2005. Hyperbaric oxygen and Radiotherapy COST Action. 
Radiation Damage References:

  1. Aanderud L, Thorsen E, Brattebo G, Forland M, Kristensen G: Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for radiation reactions. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen; 30; 120(9):1020-2, Mar 2000
  2. Bem J, Bem S, Singh A: Use of hyperbaric oxygen chamber in the management of radiation-related complications of the anorectal region: report of two cases and review of the literature. Dis Colon Rectum; 43(10): 1435-8, Review, Oct 2000
  3. Bevers RFM, Bakker DJ, Kurth KH: Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for hemorrhagic radiation cystitis. The Lancet; 346:803-805, 1995
  4. Borruat FX, Schatz NJ, Glaser JS, Feun LG, Matos L: Visual recovery from radiation-induced optic neuropathy. The role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. J Clin Neuroophthalmol;13 (2):98-101, Jun1993
  5. Cronje FJ: A review of the Marx protocols: Prevention and management of osteoradionecrosis by combining surgery and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. SADJ; 53(10): 469-71, Review, Oct 1998
  6. D'Souza, J; Goru, S; Goru, S; Brown, J; Vaughan, ED; Rogers, SN, The influence of hyperbaric oxygen on the outcome of patients treated for osteonecrosis: 8 year study; Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg; Epub  July 5,2007
  7. Davis JC, Dunn JM, Gates GA, Heimbach RD: Hyperbaric oxygen a new adjunct in the management of radiation necrosis. Arch Otolaryngol; 105 (2): 58-61, Feb 1979
  8. Del Pizzo JJ, Chew BH, Jacobs SC, Sklar GN; Treatment of radiation induced hemorrhagic cystitis with hyperbaric oxygen: long-term followup. J Urol; 160 (3 Pt 1): 731-3, Sep1998
  9. Feldmeier JJ, Heimbach RD, Davolt DA, Court WS, Stegmann BJ, Sheffield PJ: Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive treatment for delayed radiation injury of the chest wall: a retrospective review of twenty-three cases. Undersea Hyperb Med; 22(4): 383-93, Dec1995
  10. Feldmeier JJ,Newman R, Davolt DA, Heimbach RD, et al: Prophylactic hyperbaric oxygen for patient undergoing salvage for recurrent head and neck cancers following full course irradiation. Undersea Hyper Med; 25(suppl): 101, 1998.
  11. Feldmeier JJ, Heimbach RD, Davolt DA, Stegmann BJ, Sheffield PJ: Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunct of delayed radiation injuries of the extremities. Undersea Hyper Med; 25(suppl): 9, 2000
  12. Feldmeier JJ, Heimbach RD, Davolt DA, Court WS, et al: Hyperbaric oxygen as adjunctive for delayed injuries of the abdomen and pelvis. Undersea Hyper Med; 23(4): 205-213, 1996
  13. Filntisis GA, Moon RE, Kraft KL, Farmer JC, Scher RL, Piantadosi CA: Laryngeal radionecrosis and hyperbaric oxygen therapy: report of 18 cases and review of the literature. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol; 109 (6):554-62, Jun 2000
  14. Ganstrom G, Jaccobson M, Tjellstrom A: Titanium implants in irradiated tissue: benefits from Hyperbaric oxygen. The International Journal of Oral& Maxillofacial Implants; 7(1): 15-25, 1992
  15. Ganstrom G, Tjellstrom A, Branermark P, et al: Bone-anchored reconstruction of the irradiated head and neck cancer patient. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; 108 (4):334-343, 1993
  16. Greenwood TW, Gilchrist AG: Hyperbaric oxygen and wound healing in post-irradiation head and neck surgery. Br J Surg; 50:394, 1973
  17. Hartmann KA, Almeling M, Carl UM, Schmitt G. Comment: Hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO) in the treatment of radiogenic side effects. Clinical experiences are decisive! Strahlenther Onkol; 174 (4): 221-2, Apr 1998
  18. Hart GB, Strauss MB: Hyperbaric oxygen in the management of radiation injury. In Schmutz J. (ed): Proceedings of the First Swiss Symposium on Hyperbaric Medicine. Basel, Switzerland: Foundation for Hyperbaric Medicine ; pp. 31-51, 1986
  19. Hart GB, Mainous EG: The treatment of radiation necrosis with hyperbaric oxygen Cancer; 37:2580-2585, 1976
  20. Jamil MU, Eckardt A, Franko W: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Clinical use in treatment of osteomyelitis, osteoradionecrosis and reconstructive surgery of the irradiated mandible. Mund Kiefer Gesichtschir; 4(5): 320-3, Sep 2000
  21. Kaufman T, Hirshowitz B, Monies-Chass I: Hyperbaric oxygen for postirradiation osteomyelitis of the chest wall. Harefuah 97:220-222, 271, 1979
  22. Kanatas, AN; Lowe, D; Harrison, J; Rogers, SN; Survey of the use of hyperbaric oxygen by maxillofacial oncologists in UK; British Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surg; June 2005
  23. Kindwall E: Hyperbaric oxygen’s effect on radiation necrosis. Clinics in plastic surgery; 12 (3): 473-483, 1993
  24. London SD, Park SS, Gampper TJ, Hoard MA: Hyperbaric oxygen for the management of radionecrosis of bone and cartilage. Laryngoscope; 108(9): 1291-6, Sep 1998
  25. Maier A, Gaggl A, Klemen H, Santler G, Anegg U, Fell B, Karcher H, Smolle-Juttner FM, Friehs GB: Review of severe osteoradionecrosis treated by surgery alone or surgery with postoperative hyperbaric oxygenation. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg; 38(3): 173-6, Jun 2000
  26. Marx RE, Johnson RP, Kline SN: Prevention of osteoradionecrosis: a randomized prospective clinical trial of hyperbaric oxygen versus penicillin. J Am Dent Assn; 111:49-54, 1985
  27. Marx RE, Ehler WJ, Tayapongsak P, et al; Relationship of oxygen dose to angiogenesis induction in irradiation tissue. The American Jurnal of Surgery; 160:519-524, 1990
  28. Marx RE: A new concept in treatment of osteoradionecrosis. Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery; 41:351-357, 1983
  29. Mathews R, Rajan N, Josefson L, Camporesi E, Makhuli Z: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for radiation-induced hemorrhagic cystitis. J Urol; 161:435-437, 1999
  30. Peusch-Dreyer D, Dreyer KH, Muller CD, Carl U. Management of postoperative radiation injury of the urinary bladder by hyperbaric oxygen (HBO). Strahlenther Onkol; 174 Suppl 3:99-100, Nov 1998
  31. Plafki C, Carl UM, Glag M, Hartmann KA: The treatment of late radiation effects with hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO). Strahlenther Onkol; 174 Suppl 3:66-8, Review, Nov 1998
  32. Pomeroy BD, Keim LW, Taylor RJ: Preoperative hyperbaric oxygen therapy for radiation induced injuries. J Urol; 159(5): 1630-2, May 1998
  33. Rijkmans BG, et al: Succesful treatment of radiation cystitis with hyperbaric oxygen Eur Urol; 16:354-356, 1989
  34. Roden D, Bosley TM, Fowble B, Clark J, Savino PJ, Sergott RC, Schatz NJ: Delayed radiation injury to the retrobulbar optic nerves and chiasm. Clinical syndrome and treatment with hyperbaric oxygen and corticosteroids. Ophthalmology; 97(3): 346-51, Mar 1990
  35. Vudiniabola S, Pirone C, Williamson J, Goss AN: Hyperbaric oxygen in the therapeutic management of osteoradionecrosis of the facial bones. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg; 29(6): 435-8, Dec 2000
  36. Vudiniabola S, Pirone C, Williamson J, Goss AN: Hyperbaric oxygen in the prevention of osteoradionecrosis of the jaws. Aust Dent J; 44(4): 243-7, Dec 1999
  37. Williams J, Clarke D, Dennis WA, et al: The treatment of pelvic soft tissue radiation necrosis with hyperbaric oxygen. Am J Obstet Gynecol; 167(2):412-416, 1992
  38. Weiss JP, Mattei DM, Neville EC, Hanno PM. Hyperbaric oxygen: Primary treatment of radiation-induced cystitis with hyperbaric oxygen: 10-year experience. J Urol; 151 (6): 1514-1517, 1994

Proudly serving Metro Vancouver and British Columbians with hyperbaric oxygen services and wound care since 1999

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7850 Sixth Street - Burnaby V3N 3N3 - British Columbia - Vancouver - CANADA - Ph: 604-777-7055

 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.