Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stage IV Hyperbaric O2 and Radiation

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    Just throwing this out here since there have been some people dealing with the side effects from radiation, particularly for brain mets.

    We were doing the hyperbaric O2 treatments with the supervision of Rachel’s oncologist as an experiment. It seems cancer does not like an oxygen rich environment and the oncologist has had about a half dozen or so stage 3 patients who did hyperbaric O2 treatments (to help with wound healing from WE’s) do well over the years. They are all still alive today. Some insurance companies will approve the use of hyperbaric O2 for large wound healing, including necrotic brain matter due to radiation treatment.

    When we told the radiation oncologist that Rachel was doing hyperbaric O2, he was quite excited to hear that, especially as the free standing facility was literally, around the corner from the radiotherapy facility. He went an saw them the very next day.

    His take is that the saturated O2 increases the effectiveness of the radiation while reducing the chances and the amount of collateral damage to adjacent healthy brain tissue.

    While the use of hyperbaric O2 is controversial as a means to treat cancer, it seems to be an accepted adjuvant treatment for WE’s and brain tissue necrosis.

    Catherine, maybe the science advisory board can comment on this.



    Hi Jeff,

    One place where what you describe has been studied, is at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (at Dartmouth Hitchcock MC, in New Hampshire). Their studies on the radiosensitizing effect of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) on brain tumors are discussed in great detail by Dr. Alan Hartford both on their podcast series (don’t have good link) but also on their corresponding webinar series (link below).

    Like you describe, their goal is to increase blood O2 content to add as much oxidative stress as possible to the DNA damage done by SRS.

    He discusses how they’ve worked out how to do it “in the clinic”. One interesting detail is that they can’t have high levels of O2 anywhere near their SRS room. So before SRS, they do about 30 minutes of HBO, then they have set it up, almost like a track relay team, so that they get the patient to the (remote) SRS room and start of radiation within an average of 8 minutes.

    It sounds like they’ve not just been using it in studies it, but are also using it in their clinic today.

    Podcast is “Cancer Grand Rounds Lectures from the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Podcasts”. The corresponding webinar link is http://www.dhslides2.org/nccc/nccc030513f/f.htm” class=”bbcode_url”>http://www.dhslides2.org/nccc/nccc030513f/f.htm

    “A hyperbaric chamber to oxygenate cells to enhance benefits of radiation” is also listed as one of their advanced treatments on their “Brain Tumor Treatment Program” webpage, http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/pf/cancer_care/neuro_brain.html” class=”bbcode_url”>http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/pf/cancer_care/neuro_brain.html


    Wow, this is very interesting. I specifically like your wording as adjuvant therapy and not curing cancer. If anybody has more info this would be great. Also, Catherine this could be an interesting possible webinar topic.


    The webinar I posted above, only describes the use of HBO as part of a single SRS treatment. I haven’t come across anything to indicate they use it as a standalone therapy for, say, metastatic melanoma in any other setting, but I really have no idea.


    Jeff – my husband had hyperbaric O2 treatment earlier this year for a large throat ulceration that developed as a result of radiation necrosis. His doctors discontinued treatment mid-stream when he developed what they thought was a new tumor in his neck – he had other complications in addition so we just didn’t feel the potential risk was worth continuing. His oncologist and ENT felt that the concentration of oxygen from the hyperbaric treatments may actually feed the tumor growth. The docs at the hyperbaric center disagreed and strongly felt that he should continue treatment. My husband’s throat ulceration has finally healed after months of antibiotics – maybe the short course of hyperbaric treatment helped. He also experienced brain radiation necrosis so may have received some benefit in that area as well.


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