Radiotherapy treatment has improved significantly by targeting malignancy or tumors more accurately and reducing damage to the surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, radiation tissue injuries are still one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment.
Damage to normal cells and blood vessels around the treated area causes a subsequent reduction in blood supply, depriving the irradiated area of oxygen and other vital nutrients that are necessary for healing and recovery. This can lead to delayed radiation injuries – acute injuries that take longer than 6 months to heal or injuries that manifest several months after radiation exposure – resulting in pain, ulcerations (non-healing wounds), inflammation, bleeding, and destruction of bone tissue (necrosis).
HBOT for Radiation Injuries
New studies show that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can improve the recovery of soft and hard tissues affected by radiation. In fact, the FDA approved the use of HBOT for the treatment of delayed radiation injury.
The challenge, however, is that the damaged tissues break down gradually over a long time, and the symptoms are not usually detectable until months or even years after the radiation treatment. This can cause the patient to assume that the symptoms are not associated with their radiotherapy.
It is important that you visit your radiation oncologist as soon as you spot the following radiation injuries:
- Prostatitis (prostate or bladder cancer) or radiation cystitis
- Radiation tissue injury following mastectomy – such as open sores on the sores on the chest area
- Jawbone or dental problems after head and neck surgery – such as difficulty swallowing, open sores, jaw fractures, or multiple caries
- Bowel problems such as rectal bleeding, diarrhea, or incontinence following colon cancer radiotherapy
- Memory or personality changes following radiotherapy for brain cancer
HBOT can help to heal these and other delayed radiation injuries by maximizing the amount of oxygen delivered to the damaged tissues. This will in turn promote the growth of blood vessels, reduce edema, stimulate white blood cells for better disease control, improve antibiotic action and toxic action on various microbes, and promote collagen production for tissue growth.
If you or a loved one is struggling with the side effects of radiation therapy, please consult a HBOT provider near you to find out whether you’re a good candidate for HBOT.