Cancer and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
There were an estimated 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States in 2019, according to the American Cancer Association. It is the 2nd leading cause of death within the country. There are over 100 types of cancer, affecting every organ and tissue in the body. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, often destroying surrounding healthy cells. This cellular invasion can spread throughout the entire body, no matter where the source of the tumors begin. As these abnormal cells spread, they can deplete the body of its essential nutrients and resources, oxygen being one.
Traditional cancer treatments include surgery to remove tumors (lumps of abnormal cells or tissues that clump together), chemotherapy, and radiation. Chemo and Radiation are both designed to poison the cancerous cells that have spread throughout the body. While technology is starting to get to a point where these procedures can be targeted at specific affected tissue, there is often still collateral damage done to healthy cells and tissues during the process. Most people treated with chemo or radiation suffer extreme symptoms such as weight loss, hair loss, digestive issues, extreme pain, fatigue, immune suppression, and immobility. Unfortunately, a large portion of cancer deaths are related to the side effects from the treatments.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has gained traction as an adjunctive modality in the treatment and symptom management of cancer. Cancerous cells are anaerobic, meaning they thrive in oxygen-poor environments. Research is showing that flooding cancer cells with oxygen can make them easier to kill with chemo or radiation. Some experts also believe that the pressure of hyperbaric therapy can help push chemo through the body faster, leaving less time for healthy tissue to be poisoned. There are many published studies showing hyperbaric therapy’s ability to heal post-radiation damage inside the burned tissues and organs as well. Anecdotally, many patients report that their time in the chamber helps relieve pain, increase appetite, and boost energy levels.