A tumor is an alteration of the tissues that produces an increase in volume. It is an abnormal enlargement of a part of the body that appears, therefore, swollen or distended.

When cells suffer abnormal growth and have no physiological function, they tend to invade other parts of the body. There are benign tumors and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are those that are surrounded by a fibrous capsule, do not spread to other parts of the body and do not have serious consequences for the organism.

Malignant tumors are a cell proliferation that invades healthy tissues of the body, spread to other parts of the body and can cause death.

Benefits of the Hyperbaric Chamber:

– Increases oxygen in tumor masses and prevents their growth.

– Decreases the tendency of cancer cells to spread.

– Helps to normalize enzyme levels.

– Stimulates the immune response.

– Reverses vascular damage.

– Demarcates necrotic areas (dead tissue), separating them from the recoverable tissues.

– Stimulates bone metabolism.

– It increases the radio-sensitivity of malignant tumors, improving the response to treatment.

Physiological effects of HBOT in tumors:

HBOT manages to increase the amount of O2 available to diffuse and penetrate all cells and tissues, including those with irrigation problems.

It generates a state of hyperoxia from which multiple biochemical mechanisms are triggered: vasoconstriction; angiogenesis, osteogenesis, increased cellular immune response, reduction of inflammation and acute response, cell proliferation and collagen synthesis, stimulation of progenitor cells, modulation of oxidative stress and neuroprotection (1-3).

Antioxidant effect: which manages to neutralize O2 free radicals and increases oxidative stress in tumor cells (16), slowing development and growth and preventing their uncontrolled replication and metabolism, making them more sensitive to radiotherapy.

Anti-inflammatory effect: that makes it analgesic since by solving hypoxia, hyperbaric oxygenation improves the oxygenation and perfusion holders, inhibiting the synthesis of pro-inflammatory molecules and promoting the functional remodeling of peripheral axons (24).

Effect of angiogenesis: the stimulation of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) does not occur in neoplastic vessels, but in surrounding tissue, that is, in healthy tissues.

Effect of cellular proliferation: specifically in tumor cells whose function and production of antioxidant enzymes is totally affected induces oxidative stress, lipid and mitochondrial peroxidation, which leads to tumor tissue damage and the decrease of tissue proliferation and even cell death (4).

Studies on HBOT in tumors (cancer patients):

There are a large number of studies available that highlight the effects of HBOT in the treatment of tumors, most of them related to head and neck cancer (20). This type of cancer is characterized by being highly hypoxic and treated regularly and efficiently with radiotherapy (17). In almost all of the published works it is highlighted that the effect of HBOT as adjuvant therapy enhances radiotherapy.

It is also widely documented the use of HBOT for necrosis of bone tissues (mainly jaw and teeth), soft subcutaneous tissues, larynx, intestine, abdomen, bladder, rectum, thorax and limb wounds (33,37), caused by radiotherapy. This effect can manifest itself in months or years after radiotherapy (33). Radiation of healthy tissues produces tissue deterioration that can produce endarteritis and decrease in the density of small vessels, replacing normal tissue with fibrous tissue (34), resulting in ulceration and tissue necrosis (34). In this context, HBOT is used as a promoter of scarring, so angiogenesis in these tissues affected by necrosis is a sought effect (34).

Bibliographic references of HBOT in tumors (for the oncological patient):

  1. Kohshi, K., et al., Effects of radiotherapy after hyperbaric oxygenation on malignant gliomas. British journal of cancer, 1999. 80 (1-2): p. 236

Effect on radionecrosis Thanks to its angiogenesis-promoting, anti-inflammatory and pro-healing effect, HBOT is used in the treatment of bone and soft tissue necrosis induced by RT (radionecrosis, RN). 33. Bennett, M.H., et al., Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation tissue injury. The Cochrane Library, 2005.

  1. Hampson, N.B., et al., Prospective assessment of outcomes in 411 patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen for chronic radiation tissue injury. Cancer, 2012. 118 (15): p. 3860-3868
  2. Feldmeier, J., et al., Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of delayed radiation injuries of the extremities. Undersea & hyperbaric medicine, 2000. 27 (1): p. fifteen.

Source: http://medicina-hiperbarica-hospitales.es/especialidades/oncologia/tumors/