The Next Step: What to Do After Radiation Therapy

May 25, 2017 // 2 min read Radiation Tissue Damage
THE NEXT STEP: WHAT TO DO AFTER RADIATION THERAPY

A cancer diagnosis is devastating, not just for the person receiving the news, but for their family and loved ones, too. According to the national nonprofit American Cancer Society, radiation therapy is a common weapon deployed in the battle against this horrible disease—used alone, in combination with other treatments, and before or after surgery.

The group's Cancer Treatment Survivorship Facts and Figures 2016-2017 report explains this “use of high-energy beams or particles to kill cancer cells” is often utilized to fight various types of cancer, including stage IV breast cancer.

Yet despite helping countless patients, radiation therapy also puts them at risk of suffering radiation damage.

Symptoms of delayed radiation injury can surface a year or so—in some cases, up to 30 years—after radiation therapy, depending on the part of the body radiated. As a result, it can be difficult for even health care professionals to link these symptoms with the condition.

One way to help avoid or reduce radiation treatment's side effects, which could include abdominal pain, excessive dry mouth, hematuria, jaw pain, lack of balance, bloating, severe dysuria, weakness in your arms or legs, memory problemsand bladder spasms, is to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Not only can HBOT be used to treat those who show signs of delayed radiation injury, but it can also be used by those who exhibit the symptoms of chronic radiation damage.

 

HBOT is a Safe, Non-Invasive Therapy That Heals The Body from the Inside Out.

Radiation obliterates blood vessels, depletes tissue of stem cells, and causes low oxygen concentrations, which may lead to infection or further tissue damage. HBOT, which has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for radiation tissue damage, significantly increases the concentration of oxygen in your body. Doing so re-populates radiated areas with new stem cells and healthy connective tissue, re-grows and re-vitalizes damaged blood vessels, fights infection, and decreases scarring of tissue.

Here’s an example:

As reported in April 2016 by Cochrane, a global independent nonprofit comprised of medical professionals, researchers and patients, HBOT appears to have a positive impact on bone and tissue, particularly in the head and neck, and could help treat radiation proctitis, which is “inflammation of the lower part of the large intestine caused by radiotherapy treatment.” Evidence also suggests HBOT has similar effects in tissue throughout other parts of the body, including the bladder.

Additional benefits of HBOT For post-radiation therapy may include:

  • Fighting infections from non-healing chest wounds (often associated with breast cancer survivors, post-radiation therapy)
  • Decreasing any swelling or inflammation in the affected area
  • Reducing any discomfort or chronic pain caused by your symptoms
  • Encouraging stem cell growth

If you’re considering HBOT as a post-radiation therapy treatment, schedule an appointment with a medical professional, who will determine whether this decision is right for you and your health.

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Alan Katz, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, UHM/ABEM

Written by Alan Katz, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, UHM/ABEM

Dr. Alan Katz, medical director at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS), is double board certified in Emergency Medicine and Hyperbaric Medicine. He directs clinical operations, as well as education and research initiatives for HMS, particularly in exploring the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of traumatic brain injury, Lyme disease, and other inflammatory processes. He earned his medical degree from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, and completed his Emergency Medicine Residency at Long Island Jewish Medical Center....

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