How can the hyperbaric chamber help treat childhood cancer?

The term “childhood cancer” includes different types of cancer that can appear in children before 15. Childhood cancer is rare. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), it represents between 0.5% and 4.6% of the total burden of morbidity. The world incidence rates range between 50 and 200 per million children in the world.

The characteristics of the disease in childhood are different from those of adults. In general, leukemia accounts for about a third of all childhood cancers. The other most common malignancies are lymphomas and tumors of the central nervous system.

There are several tumor types that occur almost exclusively in children, such as neuroblastomas, nephroblastomas, medulloblastomas and retinoblastomas. In contrast, breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and anorectal cancer, which usually affect adults, are extremely rare in children.

Only a few risk factors have been identified in relation to childhood cancer, including ionizing radiation and taking diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy (a hormone that is no longer used as a treatment). Some cases of childhood cancer are also related to genetic constitution, as suggested by differences in incidence rates among ethnically distinct populations. Individual predisposition, for genetic reasons, can also be a decisive factor. Some studies suggest that certain viruses such as EBV, hepatitis B virus, human herpes virus or HIV can also increase the risk of childhood cancer.

Generally, childhood cancer presents nonspecific signs and symptoms, which can cause it to be detected in advanced stages. Data on cancer incidence are reflected in cancer registries, although they are less frequent in low and middle income countries than in high income countries. With early detection, approximately 80% of children with cancer survive for five years or more after diagnosis. The improvement of these results has led to an increasing number of long-term survivors who need complementary treatment and care.

In the process it is important to remember that these are children who need pediatric care, since facing a disease such as cancer requires a lot of emotional, psychological and family support. In the case of the youngest ones, professional accompaniment is needed to help them to successfully overcome each of the treatment phases.

How is Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment applied to cancer?

According to a study published in “Science Translational Medicine,” hyperbaric oxygen would help reduce tumor cells. Tumors that grow rapidly consume a lot of oxygen. Under conditions of hypoxia (low blood oxygen), cancer cells produce adenosine, a molecule that protects them and blocks the immune reaction. The conclusions refer that the treatment would complement the immunotherapy to fight cancer.

Although Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment does not cure cancer, the strong hyperoxia generated by the hyperbaric chamber brings oxygen to all tissues of the body including the tumors. This decreases its growth and favors its retraction. In cases in which radiotherapy is applied, oxygenation in the hyperbaric chamber is indicated by international organizations for the recovery of the injuries produced by the rays.

The child can be accompanied to the hyperbaric chamber to feel content. He can also enter with objects that help him feel comfortable and distracted, such as books, tablets, cell phones, pillows, blankets, etc.


CIAR, IARC World Cancer Report 2014, Lyon (France): Prepared jointly by Eva Steliarova-Foucher (CIIC) and Andreas Ullrich (WHO).

Comments are closed.