Hyperbaric oxygen is an important adjunct to the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer with existing or recurrent wound healing problems. Anecdotal clinical observations and a recent study of chemically induced oral cancer in hamsters have raised concern that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may accelerate tumor growth in such patients. This study evaluated the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the growth of human squamous cell carcinoma xenografts in a proved animal model. Fresh tumor specimens from three patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma of varying degrees of differentiation were first subcutaneously transplanted into a nude mouse host. Growing xenografts were then transplanted into one of three mouse groups. Half of the mice in each group were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The transplant volume as an index of tumor growth was measured in controls and mice given hyperbaric oxygen therapy six times during the 3-week course. Xenograft growth was almost linear in all mice. No statistical difference in overall group mean growth rates was observed in mice given hyperbaric oxygen or control mice regardless of the degree of tumor differentiation. Xenograft tissue from all mice was microscopically examined for tumor mitotic indices and degree of differentiation. This study suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy has no effect on established tumor xenograft growth.

Headley, Gapany, Dawson, Kruse, Robinson, McCabe, , , (1991). The effect of hyperbaric oxygen on growth of human squamous cell carcinoma xenografts.¬†Archives of otolaryngology–head & neck surgery, 1991 Nov;117(11):1269-72.¬†https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1747231