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Treatment Given To Deep Sea Divers May Help Cancer Patients

 

Updated : Aug 25, 2009

An oxygen treatment given to divers with the "bends" is to be tried out on cancer patients suffering side effects of radiotherapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HOT) involves sitting in a sealed chamber and breathing pure oxygen while the air pressure is slowly increased.

The treatment is used to tackle decompression sickness in divers, and to help injured elite footballers heal more quickly.

Doctors hope it will also alleviate unpleasant side effects associated with radiotherapy for cancer in the pelvic region.

Pelvic cancers include those of the cervix, the ovaries, the prostate, the testicles, the bowel, the bladder and the womb The Herald Reports.

Most patients return to normal within a few weeks of stopping radiotherapy treatment. But about 30pc develop long-term problems that can interfere with their lives, including diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

The HOT II trial will take place at specialist centres around Britain and involve 75 patients.

Professor John Yarnold, from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital, one of the scientists leading the trial, said: "We hope to answer once and for all whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy will improve patients' quality of life."

 

 

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