Definition and Causes
Radionecrosis is a complication of cancer radiation therapy, especially external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Necrosis
means the death of cells in bones, organs, and soft tissues. Side effects of radiation therapy may not present a health
problem for months or even years after treatment.
To irradiate a cancer tumor physicians and technicians always risk damaging nearby soft tissue and bone. Delayed radiation
injuries most often stem from scarring and restricted blood flow near the tumor treatment site. The linings of blood vessels
and the gastrointestinal tract are especially vulnerable to radiation damage. Radionecrosis may also be caused by radiation
overdose or by misdirected beams of radiation, whether resulting from human error or from device malfunction.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Approval Status
Delayed Radiation Injuries (Soft Tissue and Bony Necrosis)
page in the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society resource library to learn more about the mechanisms and efficacy of
hyperbaric oxygen, clinical results, and future areas for research.
Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is widely accepted as an effective treatment for delayed radiation injuries. HBOT is not
used for acute radiation injuries or for acute radiation syndrome (ARS) or radiation poisoning. HBOT works by improving blood
circulation, supplying more oxygen to damaged tissue, reducing scarring, and increasing stem cell activity. Common treatment
sites include the jaw, neck, and pelvis.
Radionecrosis ranks among the most well researched and common uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy today. Medical science
offers few other options for cancer patients who suffer delayed radiation injuries. As more oncologists employ more
powerful and sophisticated radiation therapy technologies, more patients will be healed. And more will be hurt. So the
lack of access to accredited hyperbaric facilities and certified hyperbaric physicians and technicians is a growing
public health problem.
HyperbaricLink recommends the following websites for anyone seeking authoritative information, patient advocacy, and community support
for radionecrosis and cancer.
The largest voluntary health organization in the US, with more than 900 local offices, the American Cancer Society is the leading
source of cancer information, clinical research, community support, and advocacy for people affected by cancer.
Access the American Cancer Society section on Radiation Therapy
The Association of Cancer Online Resources is a social network, information resource, and e-mail list service for people affected
by cancer. Established in 1995, the nonprofit ACOR is remarkable for its early use of the web to improve healthcare.
Internet home of the iconic yellow bracelet, founded by Lance Armstrong, LIVESTRONG is a popular source of information, advocacy,
and inspiration for people affected by cancer.
Access the LIVESTRONG section on after effects of cancer treatment
The radiation therapy entry in Wikipedia provides good basic information about the different types and uses of radiation therapy.
Start with the following resources to explore current research activities and the peer-reviewed medical literature on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for radionecrosis.
Coordinated by the
American College of Hyperbaric Medicine
(ACHM), the RRR is a registry of clinical outcomes data on 2,500 radionecrosis patients treated with HBOT at hundreds of centers across the US.
Read the ACHM interim analysis and learn more about the RRR
Headquartered at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, the Baromedical Research Foundation is conducting the
Hyperbaric Oxygen Radiation Tissue Injury Study (HORTIS). The study comprises 8 prospective, multicenter, randomized,
controlled clinical trials focused on HBOT for radionecrosis prevention and for delayed radiation injury of the mandible,
larynx, skin, bladder, rectum, colon, and cervix.
Read the HORTIS overview and trial updates
ClinicalTrials.gov keeps the official list of human clinical trials currently enrolling, in progress, and recently completed. One may reasonably question the size
and legitimacy of any study not listed here.
Search ClinicalTrials.gov for current studies of radiation injury and hyperbaric oxygen therapy
An independent, international, nongovernmental organization, the Cochrane Collaborative is a powerful force in evidence-based medicine.
One may consider a Cochrane Reviews article on any HBOT topic required hyperbaric reading
Read the Cochrane Reviews article "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation tissue injury"
A specialized Google search engine, Google Scholar indexes scholarly articles, patents, and legal opinions and journals. Google Scholar
may generate excessive search results, but entries provide easy access to full-text journal articles.
Search Google Scholar for radionecrosis and hyperbaric oxygen therapy
HBOEvidence uses computerized tools to appraise the key randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the hyperbaric medical literature.
One may reasonably question the overall strength of HBOT evidence for any disease or condition not covered here.
Read the HBOEvidence appraisals for treatment of radionecrosis with hyperbaric oxygen therapy
US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
PubMed keeps the official list of scientific papers published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. One may reasonably question the importance and
legitimacy of any study not listed here.
Search PubMed.gov for journal articles relating to radionecrosis and hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Bony necrosis
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
- Gamma Knife
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
- Late radiation tissue injury (LRTI)
- Linear partical accelerator (Linac)
- Radiation oncology
- Radiation therapy
- Soft tissue necrosis
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
HyperbaricLink suggests the
series of investigative reports published 2010-2011 in the New York Times.