Tackling side effects in head and neck cancer treatment – the end of the road for hyperbaric oxygen?


A hyperbaric oxygen chamber

Some side effects seem years after cancer treatment. That’s the case for one side impact of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, referred to as osteoradionecrosis.

This painful situation outcomes from harm to the jaw bone, which frequently doesn’t heal correctly and could cause bone fractures and even bone loss of life.

It could actually develop with out an apparent set off, nevertheless it’s usually linked to dental work like tooth extractions or implants. And it will possibly occur even when the dental work is carried out 20 years after radiotherapy.

Professor Richard Shaw, a Cancer Analysis UK-funded head and neck surgeon at the College of Liverpool, treats the tough situation fairly ceaselessly via reconstructive surgical procedure.

Shaw says that these procedures are sometimes greater and tougher than sufferers’ authentic cancer surgical procedure, as a result of they’ve already had a lot treatment in that space.

For that purpose, researchers have regarded for methods to stop osteoradionecrosis from creating. And that’s the place hyperbaric oxygen comes in. It began with a small trial in the 80s, which has influenced the approach medical doctors put together sufferers for dental surgical procedure ever since.

However new trial knowledge, led by Shaw and revealed in the Worldwide Journal of Radiation Oncology, exhibits the hyperbaric oxygen hype might have been a bit untimely.

The trial of hyperbaric oxygen

Again in the 1980s, a small trial in the US confirmed that giving hyperbaric oxygen earlier than dental surgical procedure may cut back the danger of osteoradionecrosis creating.

What’s hyperbaric oxygen remedy?

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment includes sitting in a chamber the place the oxygen is at the next stress than the air we usually breathe. It’s thought the improve in oxygen might help to advertise therapeutic. Classes sometimes final 60-90 minutes.

“Prevention is clearly an excellent thought, however I feel there was concern round whether or not hyperbaric oxygen was the reply,” says Shaw.

A giant query that lingered round the treatment was how relevant the 34-year-old trial outcomes had been to affected person’s in the present day. Radiotherapy has turn into much more focused than it was a couple of a long time in the past, which can have an effect on the danger of somebody creating osteoradionecrosis.

“There actually was no latest, good proof for hyperbaric oxygen,” says Shaw.

Nobody desires to take the danger with our sufferers who, in spite of everything, had been cured of head and neck cancer and noticed themselves as long-term survivors.

– Professor Richard Shaw

Including to that, hyperbaric oxygen treatment takes time. Sufferers should journey to a centre with a specialised chamber on daily basis for 30 days.

And eventually, the value. In keeping with Shaw, the NHS is spending someplace between £5K and £10Okay per affected person on hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

Costly, intensive and based mostly on probably shaky proof. The sensation was that it was time for hyperbaric oxygen to be put again to the check.

The decision’s in

Shaw and his crew ran a trial testing hyperbaric oxygen treatment in 144 sufferers who’d had head and neck cancer and now wanted dental surgical procedure. Half the sufferers had a course of hyperbaric oxygen earlier than surgical procedure, the different half didn’t.
Sufferers had been then monitored after dental treatment to see who developed osteoradionecrosis, in addition to monitoring ache ranges and high quality of life.

<img data-attachment-id="12373" data-permalink="https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/01/07/the-hopon-clinical-trial-the-doctors-perspective/richardshaw_hyperbaricchamber/" data-orig-file="https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/RichardShaw_HyperbaricChamber.jpg" data-orig-size="200,133" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"three.5","credit score":"","digital camera":"Canon EOS-1D X","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1398696954","copyright":"","focal_length":"24","iso":"1600","shutter_speed":"zero.02","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="RichardShaw_HyperbaricChamber" data-image-description="

Professor Richard Shaw (left) and one of the trial crew in a hyperbaric chamber

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Professor Richard Shaw (left) and one of the trial crew in a hyperbaric chamber

The very first thing the crew learnt was that osteoradionecrosis is rather a lot much less frequent now than it was in the 80s.

“We will now say that with fashionable radiotherapy, somebody’s danger of having this jaw downside is about 1 in 20. Which is rather a lot decrease than the earlier trial, which had proven it was round 1 in three,” says Shaw.

The opposite massive discovering was that hyperbaric oxygen had no influence on the quantity of individuals creating osteoradionecrosis – the numbers had been just about the identical in every side of the trial.

And though individuals who had hyperbaric oxygen reported fewer short-term side effects and much less ache instantly after surgical procedure, there was no distinction in long-term ache or high quality of life between the two teams.

“It’s very clear that in our well being system, hyperbaric oxygen is now not justified,” says Shaw. “In some methods it might be reported as a unfavourable discovering, as a result of hyperbaric oxygen didn’t work. However I feel it has given us a definitive change of observe.”

What’s subsequent?

In addition to altering observe, the trial leaves one other legacy: affected person samples. Shaw is planning to make use of these to grasp extra about who develops osteoradionecrosis.

“What you’ll deduce with 6% of sufferers creating osteoradionecrosis in this trial is that 94% of individuals didn’t, regardless that they had been thought of excessive danger,” he says.

Proper now, danger is assessed based mostly on the place the radiotherapy was aimed, in addition to the sort of follow-up dental work that’s being finished. However Shaw believes danger might be predicted extra exactly. The crew will now examine the affected person samples to look if there are any variations in the DNA of sufferers who went on to develop osteoradionecrosis.

“We’re wanting for a genetic sign or a ‘fingerprint’ that identifies individuals at excessive danger of osteoradionecrosis that we may validate in future trials,” says Shaw.

For now, Shaw says medical doctors might help to cut back the danger of osteoradionecrosis by ensuring sufferers’ enamel are in the very best situation earlier than and after radiotherapy.

This, Shaw says, may assist make certain “these circumstances that require surgical procedure don’t come up in the first place.”



Shaw RJ, et al. (2019) HOPON (Hyperbaric Oxygen for the Prevention of Osteoradionecrosis): A Randomized Managed Trial of Hyperbaric Oxygen to Forestall Osteoradionecrosis of the Irradiated Mandible After Dentoalveolar Surgical procedure. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.02.044.

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