Potential roles of hyperbaric oxygenation in the treatments of brain tumors

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;40(4):351-62.


Over the past 50 years hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy has been used in a wide variety of medical conditions, and one of them is cancer. Many clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate potential therapeutic effects of HBO2 as a part of cancer treatment. This review briefly summaries the potential role of HBO2 therapy in the treatment of malignant tumors and radiation injury of the brain. HBO2 therapy is used for the enhancement of radiosensitivity in the treatment of some cancers, including malignant brain tumors. Radiotherapy within 15 minutes following HBO2 exposure, a relatively new treatment regimen, has been studied at several institutes and has demonstrated promising clinical results for malignant gliomas of the brain. HBO2 therapy also increases sensitivity to some antineoplastic agents; non-randomized clinical trials using carboplatin-based chemotherapy combined with HBO2 show a significant advantage in survival for recurrent malignant gliomas. The possibilities of combining HBO2 therapy with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to overcome newly diagnosed and recurrent malignant gliomas deserve extensive clinical trials. HBO2 therapy also shows promising potential for the treatment and/or prevention of radiation injury of the brain after stereotactic radiosurgery for brain lesions. The possibilities with HBO2 to enhance the therapeutic effect of irradiation per se, and to even increase the radiation dose if there are ways to combat the side effects, should boost new scientific interest into the whole field of oncology looking for new armamentaria to fight cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control
  • Radiation Injuries / therapy*
  • Radiation Tolerance / physiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents