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.

Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive therapy in treatment of malignancies, including brain tumours.

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.