Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used as Adjunctive Cancer Treatment Helps Nurse Avoid Full Mastectomy
If you encounter several people sleeping peacefully in long glass-encased cylinders in a very relaxed state, it might look like some science fiction movie to you. However, that is definitely not the case. This scene can be encountered in any hospital, clinic, or conventional medical institution that offers a popular medical treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
This treatment has been used for ages to counter burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic wounds, and assists in the recovery from many more serious ailments. HBOT enables the patient to breathe in 100 percent pure oxygen under enhanced atmospheric pressure to not only promote the natural healing process of the body but also strengthen the immune system.
But can HBOT counter cancer as well? Let’s find out.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT ) and Breast Cancer
Laurie Wilson, a nurse with the Billings Clinic, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was facing a full mastectomy until she underwent HBOT sessions and came out almost completely healed. At the beginning of her cancer treatment, Wilson got the wrong end of the radiation therapy and developed a severe reaction to it. HBOT not only countered the cancerous cells successfully but also relieved her of the pain from the reaction to the radiation.
What Happens in HBOT?
The hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as stated earlier, enhances our body’s natural healing mechanisms by saturating the tissues and bodily fluids with 100 percent pure oxygen.
“We’re breathing about 20 some percent oxygen and a person under pressure is actually able to breathe about 100% oxygen,” said Judy Raboy, a Nurse Practitioner at the Billings Clinic.
Injured tissues require more oxygen to heal completely and the amount of oxygen that we breathe in normally is not enough for the tissues to heal. The availability of pure oxygen speeds up the healing process of the injured area. In Wilson’s case, it was her left breast that had developed cancer.
While it took time for the HBOT to show its effects on the cancerous tumors, it did, in the end, lead to significant improvements in Wilson’s condition. She underwent HBOT sessions for two hours daily, five days a week. It took Wilson 60 hyperbaric sessions before she started to notice the positive results brought about by the hyperbaric treatment. On seeing the improvement, she was relieved beyond measure at the prospect of complete recovery. Wilson has returned to her work and is hopeful that her cancer will soon be a thing of the past.
HBOT can help with Radiation Exposure
Many scientific studies have found HBOT to counter the complications that arise from radiation therapy and exposure. As a matter of fact, Dr. Farris Gulli has claimed that 5 – 15 percent of cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy often experience chronic health complications. The perfect example of this case is Laurie Wilson, who also developed a reaction after undergoing radiation therapy. Most of these health complications arise due to the damage to blood vessels. Breast cancer patients like Wilson can get chest wounds from radiation therapy that may never heal completely.
HBOT is used as an adjunctive treatment option along with radiotherapy for basically two applications, namely:
1) to treat late radiation injury,
2) as a radiosensitizer to enhance the effects of radiation therapy on the body.
In 2013, a team of Japanese researchers discovered that the combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy as the primary treatment and hyperbaric therapy as the adjunctive treatment enhanced the effectiveness of traditional treatment procedures significantly.
Similar results were seen in studies conducted in 2007 and 2009, which showed that cancer patients who underwent HBOTalong with the conventional treatment processes dealt with fewer side effects and had better chances of survival.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and its Effects on Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most frequently occurring type of cancer in women. As a matter of fact, 22.8 percent of all cancer cases in females are of breast cancer. A 2005 study showed that HBO exhibited a “strong ant proliferative” effect on different types of mammary cancer cells. The researchers, based on the indications in the study, concluded that hyperbaric treatment can be used as an effective therapy to counteract breast cancer. This conclusion was again supported by six different pieces of research that were performed on animals over a span of nine years.
These studies, conducted separately over almost a decade, revealed that HBOT exhibited significant inhibitory effects in the growth of mammary cancerous tumors, as a stand-alone treatment, in vivo. These results were again examined by other researchers in subsequent studies and they too found that hyperbaric treatment helped in inhibiting the growth of the cancerous tumors.
Although the medical industry is yet to accept HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) as an adjunctive treatment for cancer, more and more physicians and patients are opting for this therapy for countering health issues. Researchers are still working to find how HBOT affects all the other subtypes of cancer and there is a strong hope among many that hyperbaric treatment would soon be introduced as a mainstream procedure for cancer treatment.
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