Overcoming tumor hypoxia as a barrier to radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy in cancer treatment.

Hypoxia exists to some degree in most solid tumors due to inadequate oxygen delivery of the abnormal vasculature which cannot meet the demands of the rapidly proliferating cancer cells. The levels of oxygenation within the same tumor are highly variable from one area to another and can change over time. Tumor hypoxia is an important impediment to effective cancer therapy. In radiotherapy, the primary mechanism is the creation of reactive oxygen species; hypoxic tumors are therefore radiation resistant. A number of chemotherapeutic drugs have been shown to be less effective when exposed to a hypoxic environment which can lead to further disease progression.