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Integrative Hyperbaric & Wound Care
Hyperbaric Post-Radiation Recovery: Breast Cancer Spotlight
Integrative Hyperbaric & Wound Care
. https://virginiahyperbaric.com/

Hyperbaric Post-Radiation Recovery: Breast Cancer Spotlight

For the past over 125 years many cancers have been successfully treated with radiation, helping save millions of patients’ lives – however it often leaves lasting side effects.  Radiation works to kill cancer by penetrating deep into the tissues and destroying the blood vessels that feed it. Given the increasing number of people developing cancer, more patients each year coming face to face with the long-term side effects from it.

Radiation is used in approximately 60% of cancer patients’ treatment protocols, including breast cancer as one of the most common types. Sometimes the damage shows up early, but it can often take months to years to develop. Fortunately, impressive research and clinical evidence shows that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is highly effective at ameliorating the symptoms of the conditions created by radiation injury.  

What are the symptoms of Post Radiation Injury in Breast (and many other) Cancers?

  1. Tissue Fibrosis – Thickening or scarring of connective tissue, often with pain and restricted range of motion. 
  2. Lymphedema –Damaged lymph vessels cause fluid accumulation.
  3. Nerve Damage –Resulting in weakness, pain, numbness, or muscle loss that can be permanent.
  4. Heart and Lung Conditions – Some deep radiation going through the lungs or heart, can damage lung tissue, large blood vessels, or heart valves in some breast and other cancers.
  5. Secondary Cancer – Radiation damages the DNA of the cells it travels through, and due to this, a different type of cancer can (rarely) occur.

How can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) help with these issues?

HBOT exposes the body to 100% oxygen under pressure, which pushes higher amounts of oxygen into all areas of the body than blood ever could, and into areas with no blood flow at all. This is especially important, as most of the above conditions are created by scar tissue in areas robbed of blood flow that prevents further blood vessel growth.  This allows reparative healing nutrients to be delivered and soften the scar, which decreases pain and increases function and range of motion.

How successful are the treatment outcomes with HBOT?

A 2021 study showed improvement in all domains of quality of life, with significant improvements in breast symptoms, arm symptoms, and pain scores.  A 2020 study of 57 women who received 44 treatments, 85% saw significant improvements.  All improvements, including those of pain, fibrosis, breast swelling, and arm movement continued to remain stable even a year after the treatment series.  Remarkably, average shoulder abduction (lifting the straightened arm directly out toward the side of the body and up over the head) improved from an average of 90 degrees to 165 degrees.  

These impactful study results often lead to life-changing day-to-day improvements for patients, like the ability to put on a shirt or reach an overhead cupboard. HBOT provides considerable relief from difficult post-radiation conditions, and medical insurance covers these FDA Approved Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments.  HBOT is an effective, safe, and proven way for post-radiation patients to regain a degree of normalcy after fighting for their lives.

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