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Long Term Effects of Radiotherapy

More people are getting cancer. Survival rates for cancer are increasing. More people are living with the long term side effects of treatment such as radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy – the dose given and the area it is directed at, have all improved hugely over the past two decades. Unfortunately it is often inevitable that some normal body tissue near the cancer, can also receive radiotherapy. Most people are aware of the possible immediate side-effects of radiotherapy such as tiredness and skin changes. The longer term effects, which can occur months or years after radiotherapy are less well known.

Over time, oxygen levels in tissue may drop, small blood vessels may reduce in density and the number of cells, the building blocks of the body, may reduce in number. The area of tissue may even die, known as radionecrosis. Depending on where in the body is affected, this can cause different problems. In general terms the structure and function of that part of the body will be adversely affected, such that the tissue is not able to work normally or to heal if damaged. Bone, skin or body organs such as the bowel or bladder can be affected.

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is used either to

  • prevent tissue death , for instance if surgery is planned in an area that has been previously exposed to radiotherapy
  •  help in treatment of already damaged tissue, for instance bowel damage after radiotherapy for prostate cancer

HBO cannot resurrect dead tissue but can help stimulate small blood vessel growth into tissue damaged by radiotherapy, so improving function of the tissue and improving healing.

You can find more information about HBO and the treatment of different cancers below, or see some patient testimonials in our Case Studies section. 

Long term Side-effects of Radiotherapy in Head and Neck Cancers

Long term Side-effects of Radiotherapy in Pelvic Cancers



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