Here are the benefits you didn’t know about hyperbaric chambers for cancer

He cancer Today it represents one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. This is a reality that unfortunately affects a large portion of the population in one way or another and for which, fortunately, more and more treatments are available, while numerous supportive treatments are being promoted to improve the quality of life of these patients.

In 2023, according to data collected by REDECAN, 279,260 new cases were identified. However, cancer incidence is expected to rise by 2040, with 341,000 new cases reported by 2040, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Therefore, more and more treatments and research are needed to prolong and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

“In recent years, hyperbaric medicine has become a new support or fresh breath for these patients. In many cases, it represents an adjunctive therapy to radiation and chemotherapy,” emphasizes Dr. Ane Escribano, head of the hyperbaric medicine service at the Olimpia Medical-Surgical Center in Madrid.

Dr. Ane Escribano

It is a medical device that is used to administer hyperbaric oxygen therapy as detailed: “It consists of breathing pure oxygen under high pressure inside a closed chamber. This therapy has been used to treat a wide range of diseases, including cancer, primarily to alleviate the side effects of treatment; although it is always recommended before or after them.”

Among its benefits, the Olympia specialist points out, is that this therapy works by increasing the amount of oxygen available to the body’s tissues and reducing inflammation. “Increased pressure within the chamber can also help increase blood flow and speed up tissue healing. There are types of cancer that are highly hypoxic, that is, they prevent the proper delivery of oxygen to the blood and various tissues,” the doctor adds.

Pharmacological therapy

Today, according to this specialist, “hyperbaric medicine is considered the pharmacological therapy characterized by the greatest known antihypoxic action,” according to the Spanish Society of Hyperbaric Medicine. “Being under higher pressure, oxygen dissolves and is more easily transported in the blood, thereby promoting hyperoxygenation in all cells of the body,” appreciates Escribano.

In the case of cancer, if it is ongoing, it helps reverse vascular damage, heals tissue, reduces the tendency of tumor cells to spread, demarcates dead tissue from those that can still be repaired, and can sometimes reduce tumor size. mass, while stimulating bone metabolism as well as the immune response.

In this sense, specialist Kironsalud emphasizes that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used to treat burns, soft tissue injuries, infections, chronic wounds and carbon monoxide poisoning. “It has also been used to treat neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke,” he adds.

At the same time, Dr. Ane Escribano, head of the hyperbaric medicine service at the Olympia Medical and Surgical Center in Madrid, claims that this technology, due to the hyperoxygenation of all tissues (muscles, bones and tendons), causes the activation of stem cells. and therefore speeds up the healing process. “It manages to stimulate the creation of new blood capillaries, regulate the formation of collagen and strengthen the immune system as a whole,” insists expert Quirónsalud.

Remember, for example, that today many patients receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an adjuvant treatment for the side effects of radiation therapy, given that 5% of them may experience complications caused by its effects, some months and years after cancer treatment.

How it works

According to him, during a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session, the patient is placed in a chamber. Gradually, as Dr. Escribano described, the pressure inside the cabin increases, which can be three times higher than normal atmospheric pressure.

“The hyperbaric chamber is filled with medical oxygen. Oxygen is a gas that usually relaxes the patient, so it is normal to fall asleep during the procedure. During treatment, you can change your position and move as much as each person needs,” adds this specialist.

But he also appreciates that the increased pressure can raise the temperature by up to three degrees, creating a pleasant, warm environment for patients. In the case of the Olympia clinic, this specialist emphasizes that there is a TV in the pressure chamber so that the patient can watch his favorite TV series or films during treatment.

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