Think about it: a cancer diagnosis can turn your life upside down. Then you and your physicians arrive at a treatment plan that includes radiation therapy. Even if it's targeted radiation, you may incur radiation damage, resulting in chronic pain, incontinence, bleeding during urination (hematuria), and other symptoms that negatively impact your quality of life. Radiation-related symptoms may develop years after you had radiation therapy. They could last for years, even if your cancer is in remission or you've been told that you’re cancer-free.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent the damage before it occurs, to reduce its impact if it's already happened, and to chart a path to recovery.
One of the most effective treatments for healing damaged radiated tissue is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), which has an average improvement rate of nearly 80 percent. HBOT is a medical treatment that involves breathing 100 percent oxygen under pressure. The pressurized oxygen is dissolved in the blood stream, regenerating blood vessels, decreasing inflammation, and re-populating the radiated area with healthy stem cells.
Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat a cancer diagnosis. Oncologists try to protect their patients undergoing radiation therapy by using lower dosages and precision targeting. Nevertheless, UCLA Medical Center estimates that 10-15 percent of patients who receive radiation therapy will experience chronic radiation damage.
Minimizing Radiation Damage
You can try to minimize the chances of radiation tissue damage, but delayed radiation damage may occur. Resulting problems can range from mild to moderate to even severely debilitating.
Here are two proactive steps to take to improve the outcome of radiation therapy:
1. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
If you are having surgery performed on a part of your body that has previously undergone a radiation treatment, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy may be extremely helpful in preventing further damage. As shown by the Marx Protocols, it can be effective in dental surgery as well as in surgery of the jaw, where the most severe side effect of radiation therapy is a condition called osteoradionecrosis (ORN). It can also be beneficial in planned breast reconstruction if the tissue has previously been exposed to radiation, even if it has been years since the application.
2. Diet, nutritional supplements and food preparation
To limit the effects of acute radiation damage, you can also use certain dietary, supplemental and herbal remedies. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends:
- Cooking with olive and coconut oils at low temperatures to avoid carcinogens forming
- Eliminating processed foods and foods with trans fatty acids
- Ingesting a vitamin E supplement, because studies have shown that it may protect organs from radiation damage. Probiotics may help reduce diarrhea in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancer in the pelvis or abdomen.
- Herbs may help to lessen the effects of radiation damage, including:
- Milk Thistle
- Green Tea
- Panax Ginseng
- Holy Basil
- Chamomile Oral Rinse
- Aloe Vera
Patients are encouraged to discuss all dietary, supplement and herbal remedies with a nutritionist or a physician before making any changes in their eating habits.
Types of Radiation Damage
There are two different types of radiation damage: acute and delayed.
Acute radiation damage typically arises very soon after radiation treatment. Although it can be debilitating for many patients, it also tends to resolve itself relatively quickly.
Delayed radiation damage can occur from six months to years (sometimes even decades) after a person has received radiation therapy. Symptoms of chronic radiation injury can include: intermittent or chronic pain, erectile dysfunction, neurologic dysfunction, chronic diarrhea or constipation, inability to salivate, ringing in ears, laryngitis, difficulty swallowing, difficulty opening the jaw, wounds that don’t heal, bleeding, bowel or bladder incontinence, chronic abdominal or rectal pain, and nerve dysfunction.
If you or a loved one have experienced any of the debilitating effects from delayed radiation damage, then we encourage you to give HBOT, the best curative therapy for radiation damage, a try.
For example, Cathy*, a patient at one of our centers, was a 68-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer, which had spread to her brain. In a special clinic, she received radiation targeted to 22 brain lesions. The treatment was effective in remediating them but unfortunately the radiation damaged viable brain tissue. About six months afterwards, Cathy developed a condition called radiation necrosis. It affected her ability to walk, hampered the coordination of her hands and upper arms, and caused her head to bob constantly.
Cathy started with HBOT – breathing pure oxygen under pressure – and did remarkably well. After 40 treatments, she was out of the wheelchair and began using a walker or a cane. Soon, she could use her upper extremities and her head motions ceased. She also regained enough manual dexterity to use her cellphone to send text messages.
We were very pleased with Cathy’s results and remain in touch with her to monitor her long-term progress. While not all results are the same, and we do not guaranty results, we encourage you to give HBOT a try.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Find out if HBOT is right for you.