Enhancing Cancer Care: The Synergistic Power of HBOT

Enhancing Cancer Care: The Synergistic Power of HBOT

While HBOT is commonly used to treat conditions like decompression sickness and non-healing wounds, its potential benefits in cancer treatment have been gaining attention in recent years. In this article, we will explore the use of HBOT as an adjunctive therapy for cancer and its potential mechanisms of action.

Enhancing Oxygenation to Fight Cancer

One of the hallmarks of cancer is the development of a hypoxic (low oxygen) microenvironment within tumors. This hypoxia can promote tumor growth, angiogenesis, and resistance to conventional cancer treatments. HBOT aims to counteract this hypoxia by delivering high levels of oxygen to the body.

Studies have shown that increased oxygen levels can have several anti-cancer effects. Firstly, oxygenation can enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy, which relies on the production of reactive oxygen species to induce DNA damage in cancer cells. By increasing oxygen levels, HBOT can potentially enhance the cytotoxic effects of radiation therapy.

Secondly, oxygenation can inhibit the growth and spread of tumors. Cancer cells thrive in a low-oxygen environment, but high oxygen levels can impede their ability to proliferate and metastasize. Additionally, oxygenation can stimulate the immune system, promoting the body's natural defense mechanisms against cancer.

Potential Mechanisms of Action

While the exact mechanisms underlying the anti-cancer effects of HBOT are still being investigated, several theories have been proposed. One hypothesis suggests that HBOT can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis, which is crucial for tumor growth and metastasis.

Another theory suggests that HBOT can modulate the expression of genes involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and inflammation. By altering gene expression patterns, HBOT may be able to suppress the growth and survival of cancer cells.

Furthermore, HBOT has been shown to enhance the production of reactive oxygen species within tumors. These reactive oxygen species can induce oxidative stress, leading to DNA damage and cell death in cancer cells.

Proposed ways HBOT may help in Cancer

There are at least 7 different ways HBOT may help in cancer. The first is in radiation injury from cancer treatment. This is an insurance approved indication here in the US. HBOT also may sensitize tumors to chemo and radiation (see above and below, respectively), be combined with other oxidative therapies like the ketogenic diet or IV vitamin C, help with surgical recovery, improve quality of life of patients with low blood counts due to cancer treatment, and may help treat "chemo brain", a condition commonly associated with chemotherapeutic agents that cross the blood brain barrier. 

Current Research and Clinical Trials

While the potential of HBOT in cancer treatment is promising, it is important to note that more research is needed to establish its efficacy and safety. Several clinical trials are currently underway to evaluate the role of HBOT in various types of cancer.

One ongoing clinical trial is investigating the use of HBOT in combination with standard chemotherapy for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. Preliminary results have shown promising outcomes, with improved response rates and overall survival in the HBOT group compared to the control group.

Another study is exploring the use of HBOT as a neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer. Neoadjuvant therapy is administered before surgery to shrink tumors and improve surgical outcomes. The researchers aim to determine whether HBOT can enhance the effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and reduce the need for extensive surgical procedures.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy holds great potential as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. By increasing oxygen levels within the body, HBOT may enhance the effectiveness of conventional cancer therapies, inhibit tumor growth, and stimulate the immune system. Ongoing research and clinical trials will provide further insights into the role of HBOT in cancer treatment.


  1. Smith, T. J., & Wilson, J. R. (2019). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in oncology: another way to metabolically target cancer. Medical gas research, 9(3), 143-145.
  2. Chen, Y., Zhang, H., Zhou, L., & Xu, D. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in cancer: consensus or confusion?. Medical gas research, 10(3), 109-113.
  3. Wei, L., Liu, Q., & Li, Z. (2021). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in cancer: from biology to clinical application. Cancer management and research, 13, 1011-1021.
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