What is the purpose of oxygen treatment for cancer?


Quick Answer

The aim of oxygen treatment for cancer is to stimulate the immune system to more effectively fight tumors, reports Science News. Results of a 2015 laboratory study revealed that high doses of oxygen in the air helped test animals receiving immune therapy combat tumors in lungs and breasts.

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Full Answer

The study, headed by Michail Sitkovsky of Northeastern University in Boston, focused on the ability of tumors to thrive in an oxygen-poor environment, according to an NBC News report. Sitkovsky reasoned that pumping up oxygen levels could counteract tumor growth. He and his team raised ambient levels of oxygen to 60 percent, which is similar to the therapeutic mix delivered in an oxygen mask. They found that super-oxygenated antibodies are more active and effective against a tumor's innate defenses.

However, the question remains as to whether this approach to cancer works in humans. Researchers have been testing various oxygen-based therapies for cancer for years, says Medical Daily. As of Sitkovsky's study release date in early 2015, none have proven effective on humans. Some earlier therapies have even posed health risks.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, the treatment most commonly used for decompression illness in divers, enjoyed a brief popularity as a potential cancer cure. This prompted the FDA to issue a cautionary statement that HBOT was neither an approved nor a proven therapy, and in fact presented health risks, according to the FDA website in 2016.

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