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HBOT as a Complementary Treatment in Cancer

HBOT as a Complementary Treatment in Cancer

I have been in the hyperbaric field for more than thirty years. During that time, many have come to me with questions concerning cancer. I am providing this narrative to clarify the role that HBOT in an integrative approach to treating cancer. I fully understand the need to be fully informed at a time where information is coming at you fast and furiously. My mother dealt with this situation at three different points in her life, addressing the diagnosis of cancer.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been explored in various contexts related to cancer treatment and management. Here are some key points:

    1. Radiation-Induced Toxicity: HBOT has shown efficacy in managing late local toxic effects in    patients who have undergone radiation therapy. This includes conditions like radiation proctitis , radiation cystitis and osteoradionecrosis.

    2. Contraindications: Historically, there has been concern that HBOT could exacerbate active cancer due to increased oxygen availability potentially promoting tumor growth. However, recent studies suggest that HBOT does not promote the growth or the spread of cancer and could be beneficial in specific contexts.

    3. Head and Neck Cancer: Over the last 30 years studies have indicated that HBOT can be beneficial in treating complications arising from head and neck cancer treatments, such as osteoradionecrosis and soft tissue necrosis.

    4. Combination with Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy: There is ongoing research into the synergistic effects of HBOT with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A majority of studies suggest that HBOT enhances the efficacy of these treatments by improving oxygenation of hypoxic tumor cells, potentially making them more susceptible to treatment.

    5. Tumor Progression: There is evidence suggesting that HBOT might suppress tumor progression through various mechanisms, including modulation of the tumor microenvironment and enhancement of immune response.

    6. Liver Disease and Cancer: HBOT has also been explored in the context of liver diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma, where it may help in managing complications and improving overall liver function.

Studies have demonstrated that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) provides favourable changes of the tumor microenvironment (TME) through several mechanisms:

    1. Oxygenation of Hypoxic Tumor Areas: HBOT increases the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood and tissues, which can alleviate hypoxia in the TME. Hypoxia is a common feature of solid tumors and contributes to treatment resistance and aggressive tumor behavior. By improving oxygenation, HBOT can enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy and certain chemotherapies.

    2. Immune Modulation: HBOT can influence the immune landscape within the TME. Enhanced oxygenation can improve the function of immune cells, such as T cells and natural killer cells, which are crucial for anti-tumor immunity. This can potentially enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapies.

    3. Reduction of Tumor Angiogenesis: Hypoxia in the TME often leads to the upregulation of pro-angiogenic factors like VEGF, promoting the formation of abnormal blood vessels. By reducing hypoxia, HBOT can decrease the expression of these factors, potentially normalizing the tumor vasculature and improving drug delivery.

    4. Modulation of Metabolic Pathways: Tumor cells often rely on anaerobic glycolysis due to hypoxic conditions. HBOT can shift the metabolic balance towards oxidative phosphorylation by increasing oxygen availability, which may reduce the aggressive phenotype of cancer cells.

    5. Impact on Tumor Cell Proliferation and Apoptosis: Enhanced oxygen levels can induce oxidative stress in tumor cells, leading to increased apoptosis and reduced proliferation. This can help in controlling tumor growth and progression.

    6. Extracellular Matrix (ECM) Remodeling: HBOT can influence the composition and structure of the ECM within the TME, potentially affecting tumor cell invasion and metastasis. These mechanisms highlight the multifaceted role of HBOT in modulating the TME, making it a potential adjuvant in cancer therapy.

While HBOT shows promise in several areas related to cancer treatment, it is crucial to consider individual patient factors and the specific type of cancer when evaluating its use. Further research is needed to fully elucidate these interactions and optimize HBOT protocols for cancer treatment.

The most important thing to remember in your approach to cancer is to be positive and surround yourself with positive people.


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