Purpose: Comparison of quality of life (QoL) and side effects in a randomized trial for early hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) after radiotherapy (RT).
Methods and materials: From 2006, 19 patients with tumor originating from the tonsillar fossa and/or soft palate (15), base of tongue (1), and nasopharynx (3) were randomized to receive HBOT or not. HBOT consisted of 30 sessions at 2.5 ATA (15 msw) with oxygen breathing for 90 min daily, 5 days per week, applied shortly after the RT treatment was completed. As of 2005, all patients received validated questionnaires (i.e., the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] QLQ-C30, EORTC QLQ Head and Neck Cancer Module (H&N35), Performance Status Scale): before treatment; at the start of RT treatment; after 46 Gy; at the end of RT treatment; and 2, 4, and 6 weeks and 3, 6, 12, and 18 months after follow-up.
Results: On all QoL items, better scores were obtained in patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen. The difference between HBOT vs. non-HBOT was significant for all parameters: EORTC H&N35 Swallowing (p = 0.011), EORTC H&N35 Dry Mouth (p = 0.009), EORTC H&N35, Sticky Saliva (p = 0.01), PSS Eating in Public (p = 0.027), and Pain in Mouth (visual analogue scale; p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Patients randomized for receiving hyperbaric oxygen after the RT had better QoL scores for swallowing, sticky saliva, xerostomia, and pain in mouth.