A doctor pointing at a model of a bladder

Lower Abdominal Cancers and Radiation Necrosis

When treating tumors in the lower abdomen, such as rectal, prostate, cervical, uterine, bladder and testicular cancer, radiation necrosis is common. However, symptoms often do not surface for months after radiation treatments. Symptoms of radiation necrosis as a result of these cancers can include:

  • Chronic bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe pain
  • Inflammation
  • Rectal ulcers
  • Narrowing of the bowel
  • Fistulas – abnormal connections formed between two hollow spaces, such as blood vessels, intestines or other hollow organs
  • Radiation Cystitis – Bladder inflammation

These symptoms often result in the need for surgical intervention, such as bowel re-sectioning and colostomies. HBOT, however, provides a non-invasive alternative with great success. For example, several studies show how HBOT treats abdominal radiation necrosis:

  • In one study, 53 percent of abdominal radiation patients that received HBOT treatments showed immediate improvement. In addition, 66 percent showed improvement or complete recovery in the long-term.
  • Another study showed 87 percent of patients given HBOT for abdominal and pelvic necrosis experienced a complete recovery.
  • In this study, 36 percent of patients with radiation-induced proctitis (rectal inflammation) and enteritis (small bowel inflammation) experienced complete symptom relief while 60 percent showed marked clinical improvement.

Head and Brain Cancers

A woman receiving radiation therapy

Cancers and tumors of the head can affect the neck, mouth, and brain. Targeted radiation therapy kills cancer cells. However, at the same time, it also damages healthy cells. In the case of the head and brain in particular, the areas of tissue death play an important role in what symptoms occur with radiation necrosis. Symptoms can appear months, or even years, after radiation treatment.

Head, Neck, and Mouth Radiation
1. Open sores
2. Mouth ulcers
3. Pain when swallowing
4. Bone and tissue damage
5. Uncontrolled hemorrhaging (bleeding)

Brain Tumor Radiation
1. Memory loss
2. Hydrocephalus – dilation of the cerebral ventricles with excess spinal fluid
3. Seizures
4. Increased intracranial pressure
5. Weakness on one side of the body
6. Impaired thinking
7. Hormonal changes
8. Sleep disturbances
9. Decreased sex drive
10. Mood disturbances
11. Nausea
12. Dizziness
13. Vision changes
14. Death

HBOT treatment offers great success in radiation necrosis of the head, neck, and brain. For example, current success rates range from 83 to 90 percent of patients seeing complete recovery and even a reversal in possible brain damage. As a result, physicians often turn to HBOT, avoiding the need for surgical intervention.

How does HBOT Treat Radiation Necrosis?

A man receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy

HBOT therapy delivers 100 percent oxygen under higher than normal pressure, essentially flooding the body with oxygen. As a result, the higher oxygen levels reduce swelling and damaged blood vessels and tissue begin to repair. In addition, higher oxygen levels promote tissue and capillary growth, aiding in the healing process. In short, HBOT therapy reduces the need for surgical removal of damaged tissue, by helping the body heal.

With this in mind, if you suffer from some form of radiation necrosis and would like more information on how hyperbaric oxygen and HBOT can help you, give our office a call today at 727.787.7077 and set up an initial consultation. Dr. Spiegel and his team will evaluate your medical history and work with you to create a treatment plan. You may also fill out our online request form HERE.