Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy & Breast Cancer Recovery

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is considered an effective treatment for cancer related pain, damage and fatigue, which can originate from radiation or chemotherapy treatments and surgery. Patients that undergo HBOT often feel considerable relief.

Many patients experience complications following a lumpectomy and radiation for breast cancers often describing the pain as persistent and intense in and around the breast, armpits, shoulder, neck, or back. The pain can be described as tightness, tenderness or a burning sensation and can often be seen as open sores or extreme fatigue throughout the body.

Breast cancer patients who have had skin and blood vessel damage resulting from radiotherapy or surgeries, including mastectomy and breast reconstruction can benefit significantly from HBOT treatments. Blood vessels may become narrowed and scarred in areas that have been irradiated. This can cause tissue damage months or even years after radiation therapy. Mastectomy procedures can also lead to skin loss or mastectomy flap necrosis. Over time, the affected tissues may become weaker and break down (ulcerate). Rarely, some tissues may die completely (radiation necrosis). HBOT can be a transformative treatment in these types of circumstances and has strongly been suggested as an effective intervention to limit necrosis.

One of the biggest benefits of HBOT is that it often stops ongoing radiation damage to breast tissue, bones, skin and nerves by building healthy new cells and aiding new growth and regeneration in damaged nerves. It also stimulates angiogenesis in hypoxic tissues, correcting the ischemia (restricted blood flow) which also improves flap and graft salvage.

HBO treatment:

  • increases oxygen levels in areas where they are low because of illness or injury
  • encourages new blood vessels to grow so that they can carry more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues
  • increases the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and prevent infection
  • reduces any swelling, pressure and pain that may happen around the wound.

Dr. Enoch Huang, MD, of Hyperbaric Aware states:

“HBO2 is able to reverse some of the effects of radiation therapy by stimulating blood vessel growth in previously irradiated tissue. This can (also) be used before and after surgery to increase the chance of healing.”

Ongoing research could cement the benefits of HBOT following breast cancer procedures to doctors and patients, as well as breast cancer and breast surgery care teams in healthcare organisations all over the world by showing considerable impact to patients’ quality of life.