A breath of fresh air for brain tumour treatment
Brain tumours are masses of abnormal cells that have grown either in the brain tissue itself or the tissues covering the brain and can be life-threatening. Standard brain tumour treatment often employs surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, these treatments also come with many side effects: Patients may experience debilitating headaches, nausea, and fatigue. But recently, there’s been growing interest in an alternative brain tumour treatment: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Proponents claim HBOT can not only reduce or eliminate brain cancer symptoms but also kill cancer cells. Let’s take a closer look at this promising new development in brain tumour treatment!
In the journal Medical Gas Research, an article published on March 13, 2020, reported that HBOT may play a “prominent role in brain tumour management.” But what is HBOT, and how might it benefit brain tumour patients?
In a nutshell [synopsis], HBOT is an oxygen therapy that involves breathing pure oxygen inside a hyperbaric chamber. The pressure in the chamber is higher than normal atmospheric pressure, which forces oxygen into the bloodstream. According to brain tumour researchers who contributed to this report, this significantly increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in body tissues, including cancer cells. Since cancer cells have less permeable cell membranes than healthy brain cells, they are more susceptible to damage from excessive levels of molecular oxygen. In addition, they may be more sensitive to any oxidative cellular changes induced by HBOT-induced radicals (such as intracellular peroxide and superoxide ions).
This treatment is particularly promising for brain tumour patients because it may help slow the spread of brain cancer cells. Although more research is needed before HBOT can be implemented as a mainstream brain cancer treatment, initial studies are promising.
How can brain tumour patients benefit from HBOT?
Brain tumour researchers hope that HBOT may be used in conjunction with brain cancer treatments like surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. They also note that brain cancer patients undergoing traditional medical brain tumour treatment may benefit from HBOT due to its ability to reduce or even eliminate brain cancer symptoms. As such, brain tumour patients may want to discuss possible HBOT treatments with their doctors as an alternative (and possibly complementary) brain cancer treatment.
Scientists from several Italian institutions conducted a follow-up study to investigate the effects of HBOT on brain tumour patients. Their research, sponsored in part by the Italian Society of Hyperbaric Medicine (SIHC), was published in 2009 in Surgical Neurology International.
The researchers began their study by recruiting 15 adult and paediatric patients with gliomas (the most common type of primary malignant brain tumour). Because these tumours are known to cause severe side effects when exposed to radiation or chemotherapy, researchers wanted to see if additional oxygenation could provide relief.
Patients received one hour per day of standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy in combination with HBOT at 1.5 atmospheres for 40 minutes a day, five days a week over six weeks. Additional treatments were administered as needed during chemo-radiation and chemotherapy cycles.
Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to determine the size of the tumour before treatment. They also assessed the patient’s overall well-being and cognitive, neurological, pulmonary, and cardiovascular function, using conventional criteria for cancer patients.
Before beginning the study, most patients were experiencing significant side effects from their initial treatments. However, after four weeks of HBOT, these symptoms had improved by an average of 46% across the board for all patients in the study. By week six—the last time data was collected—most patients reported that these side effects had entirely resolved.
Furthermore, MRI scans at week six revealed a more than 30% reduction in tumour size compared to pre-treatment measurements – a promising result for an already tricky disease.
The researchers observed that HBOT could selectively increase oxygen levels in the tumour site while maintaining healthier brain tissue, which improves patient outcomes. However, they concluded that additional research is needed to determine if longer courses of treatment would result in even better results.
However, they also stated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be used as a safe and effective adjunct to standard care, leading to an improved health-related quality of life for glioma patients experiencing severe side effects from their initial treatments.
While HBOT can be an amazing tool for many cancer patients, it’s not the only way to eliminate brain-related side effects. For instance, doctors have managed to lower patients’ heart rates while still killing cancer cells using other methods. Some medical professionals have even been able to treat headaches caused by surgery with narcotics alone without using any HBOT at all. In the end, this means that HBOT should probably never replace traditional treatments. Instead, it should always be seen as an adjunct or enhancer rather than a replacement. If you believe you may be suffering from a brain tumour, get expert assistance from SeekMed’s trained and experienced specialists for diagnosis and hospitalisation. Furthermore, by searching for “best oncologist in India” or “oncologist near me,” you can learn more about brain tumours and how to treat them, as well as receive counselling.