Treating Radiation-Induced Late Side Effects With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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Radiation therapy can be a life-saving treatment for cancer patients, but it can also damage healthy tissue in the process of eradicating cancer cells.

To the roughly 30,000 cancer patients suffering from late side effects of radiation therapy, the entire team at CĹ«tisCare wanted to share a message of hope. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an effective treatment.

In this post, we’re going to discuss Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a treatment for some of the more commonly encountered late side effects for:

  • Radiation cystitis (bleeding from the bladder due to radiation)
  • Radiation proctitis (last part of the large bowel)
  • Chronic radiation tissue Injury & Soft tissue radionecrosis

Many late effects of radiation therapy, aka Chronic Radiation Tissue Injury (CRTI) or Soft Tissue Radionecrosis (STRN), can be successfully treated using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, also knows as HBO2 or HBOT. This therapy has been found to be highly effective in treating, and in some cases reversing, the three H’s of radiation-induced wounds:  

  • Hypoxia
  • Hypovascularity
  • Hypocellularity

But just how effective is HBOT in treating the late effects of radiation? Let’s turn to the care team at UCLA Medical Center—Department of Radiation Oncology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA:

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe and effective treatment modality offering durable relief in the management of radiation-induced osteoradionecrosis either alone or as an adjunctive treatment. Radiation soft tissue necrosis, cystitis, and proctitis also seemed to benefit from HBOT, but the present study did not have sufficient numbers to reliably predict long-term response.

That’s encouraging news. There is also a larger study currently underway with an estimated initial completion date later this year

What Are the Benefits to Patients With Chronic Radiation Tissue Injury or Soft Tissue Radionecrosis?

At its most fundamental level, HBOT enhances the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to wound tissue. The healing benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy include:

  • Accelerates the wound healing process
  • Increases oxygenation to all tissues
  • Promotes collagen and new skin development
  • Reduces swelling and discomfort
  • Promotes new blood vessel formation
  • Increases capillary growth
  • Activates bactericidal activity killing bacteria

HBOT is also approved by Medicare to treat patients with a variety of medical conditions. That’s great news for doctors, patients, and wound care teams in healthcare organizations of all sizes and scopes.

Could your hospital, practice, or clinic benefit from improved radiation wound care treatments? 

Approximately one-third of patients in the United States who received hyperbaric oxygen therapy is being treated for late effects of radiation therapy (LERT). Major advances have been made in the past 50 years in the treatment and prognosis of many cancers. (1)

Healing starts with doctors and their patients, but you’ll have us along for the entire treatment journey.

Our team is laser-focused and passionate about facilitating exceptional patient outcomes through flexible, economical, and innovative HBOT solutions. Our mission is to provide hospitals, research facilities, clinics, and private practices nationwide with the solutions and expertise they need to treat their patients with chronic wounds. 

Lastly, this March we are encouraging our community to take the first step for a smoke-free lifestyle and show our support of National No Smoking Day, taking place on March 9. The National Cancer Institute points out that tobacco use ranks among the world’s leading causes of death. Smoking exacerbates the negative effects of radiation-induced ulcers and impair the potential positive effects of wound healing therapies like HBOT. If you haven’t already – now is the time to Commit To Quit!

Sources: (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470447/
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