Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is widely used as an adjunctive treatment for various pathological states, predominantly related to hypoxic and/or ischaemic conditions. It also holds promise as an approach to overcoming the problem of oxygen deficiency in the poorly oxygenated regions of the neoplastic tissue. Occurrence of local hypoxia within the central areas of solid tumours is one of the major issues contributing to ineffective medical treatment. However, in anti-cancer therapy, HBO alone gives a limited curative effect and is typically not applied by itself. More often, HBO is used as an adjuvant treatment along with other therapeutic modalities, such as radio- and chemotherapy. This review outlines the existing data regarding the medical use of HBO in cancer treatment, with a particular focus on the use of HBO in the treatment of brain tumours. We conclude that the administration of HBO can provide many clinical benefits in the treatment of tumours, including management of highly malignant gliomas. Applied immediately before irradiation, it is safe and well tolerated by patients, causing rare and limited side effects. The results obtained with a combination of HBO/radiotherapy protocol proved to be especially favourable compared to radiation treatment alone. HBO can also increase the cytostatic effect of certain drugs, which may render standard chemotherapy more effective. The currently available data support the legitimacy of conducting further research on the use of HBO in the treatment of malignancies.
Keywords: Cancer; Chemotherapy; Glioblastoma; Hyperbaric oxygen therapy; Hypoxia; Radiation therapy.