Study Finds Hyperbaric Treatment Can Relieve the Side Effects of Radiotherapy
Study Finds Hyperbaric Treatment Can Relieve the Side Effects of Radiotherapy

According to new research in the field of oncology published in The Lancet Oncology, oxygen therapy obtained inside a hyperbaric chamber can provide relief to patients who have recently undergone radiotherapy.

An Overview of Radiotherapy

Many protocols for the treatment of cancer, in organs such as the cervix, prostate, colon, and ovaries, require radiotherapy to control the growth and spread of the cancerous cells. And while such intervention might be necessary and even life-saving, the medical community cannot ignore the fact that radiotherapy has been linked to several physiological side-effects and major health issues.

Radiotherapy has been known to damage healthy tissue and may cause health problems in nearby organs during the treatment process. Problems in the urinary tract, vagina, rectum, and bladder are quite common among cancer patients being treated with radiotherapy. These problems might include bleeding, incontinence, the frequent urge to urinate, and severe abdominal pain.

The Role of Hyperbaric Treatment

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT, can help relieve some of the symptoms and side-effects associated with radiotherapy. When radiotherapy is used to treat cancerous growth in the pelvic region, it can cause several health problems (such as those mentioned above), and studies show that these issues can be minimized to a significant degree with the help of hyperbaric treatment.

For many patients, about thirty to forty hyperbaric sessions resulted in reduced bleeding, pain, and urinary incontinence, providing them with much-needed relief even as their cancer treatment continued unhampered.

This new study, detailing the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment for the side-effects of radiotherapy, was published in The Lancet Oncology. The first author of the published article, Nicklas Oscarsson, wrote that hyperbaric treatment has proved to be highly effective for a majority of the patients receiving radiotherapy.

A doctoral student in intensive care and anesthesiology, Oscarsson is currently pursuing his education at the Sahlgrenska Academy, under the University of Gothenburg. He is also a senior consultant working at the Angered Hospital in Sweden.

The Side-Effects and Their Impact

The article went on to state that common side-effects of radiotherapy such as bleeding, urinary incontinence, severe abdominal pain, and the frequent urge to urinate can cause physical as well as social difficulties for patients. Moreover, the appearance of these symptoms is not restricted to the time of radiotherapy itself. In fact, the side-effects may manifest years after the treatment has been completed.

This might cause chronic discomfort to patients, and the problems usually keep increasing until proper treatment has been availed. Earlier, the only relief these patients could be offered was temporary, or involved comprehensive surgery that many were reluctant to undertake.

The Study and Its Results

The current study is the first of its kind, because it compared the effects of hyperbaric treatment with that of standard care, with the help of randomized controlled trials. More than 220 patients were screened, 79 of whom were included in the analysis.

All of the patients who were included in the study had previously reported relatively severe symptoms which caused major limitations in the lifestyle. These problems usually stemmed from bleeding, pain, incontinence, and diminished bladder capacity.

All of the 79 patients were treated during roughly the same period of time at various university hospitals spanning five Nordic cities. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland were the four countries in which the patients resided and were being treated.

The control group consisting of 38 patients (out of the original 79) were given standard care for their radiotherapy-induced symptoms. Standard care, in this case, consisted of physical therapy, medication, and other interventions. The remaining 41 patients underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy for forty days in a row, divided into ninety-minute daily sessions.

The Process of Hyperbaric Therapy

During each of the hyperbaric sessions, the patients would be made to enter a sealed vessel known as a hyperbaric chamber. One or more people could enter a chamber at any given time, depending on whether the chamber was monoplace or multiplace. Inside the chamber, as part of the hyperbaric treatment, pure oxygen was administered to the patients at heightened levels of atmospheric pressure.

Two-thirds of the patients who received the hyperbaric treatment reported a reduction in their symptoms. Some even said that the side-effects had disappeared altogether, after the completion of the forty sessions. The other one-third experienced no major changes in their health condition post hyperbaric treatment. The control group, after having received standard care for the same amount of time, also reported no major improvements in their condition.

In Conclusion

In particular, this study focuses on the overall quality of life experienced by cancer survivors, an important issue in the modern world. It relies on self-reported qualitative and quantitative data regarding radiotherapy symptoms.

How cells and tissues in the human body adapt to increased or decreased oxygen availability, and how such adaptation can be used for treatment processes, are some of the topics explored in this study concerning the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment for cancer survivors.

Being a medical assistant, I keep myself up to date with the latest happenings in the world of medicine. I'm also an active blogger & love to share my knowledge.
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Hyperbaric Therapy, Hyperbaric Therapy, HBOt Chambers, HBOt Chambers, Hyperbaric Chamber, Hyperbaric Chamber, Radiotherapy, Radiotherapy,

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