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Preclinical Trials Suggest Hyperbaric Oxygen Could Treat Glioblastoma


Malignant glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer and it generally has a poor prognosis with only 26% of patients surviving more than two years. Of the estimated 17,000 primary brain tumors diagnosed in the United States each year, approximately 60% are gliomas. In a search for a better treatment, researchers at The Long Island Brain Tumor Center at Neurological Surgery PC are enrolling patients in a Phase II study that will take a novel approach. They will test Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy as a method to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.

Oxygen Therapy Shown to Improve Survival Rates of Glioblastoma Brain Cancer

Brain tumors are usually caused by a change in genetic structure which may be inherited, caused by the environment or both. Glioblastoma tumors are known to frequently develop resistance to standard treatment and recur or progress.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment that has been traced back to the 1600’s. A patient is placed in an oxygen chamber and given 100% O2 under pressure which improves oxygen delivery to the cells. Because the glioblastoma tumors appear to prefer a low-oxygen metabolic state, says Jai Grewal MD, co-director of the Center, increasing oxygen concentration of the tumor may increase the effectiveness of standard therapy.

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Preclinical trials have shown that HBOT does show some benefit to patients. A study conducted in 2006 in Japan (Ogawa et al) found that patients who received radiation therapy immediately after hyperbaric oxygenation combined with chemotherapy had longer survival rates and relatively few adverse effects such as neutropenic fever or intracranial hemorrhage.

In the unique Phase II study, the only one of its kind in the US, patients newly diagnosed with malignant glioblastoma who have recently had surgery, but not chemotherapy or radiation, will receive HBOT in addition to the current standard of care. This includes chemotherapy with temozolomide (brand name Temodar) taken at home daily and radiation five days a week (Monday through Friday) for the first six weeks. Participants will receive the experimental oxygen treatment prior to each radiation session.

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After the initial phase of the study, patients will continue to receive temozolomide on a monthly basis for a period of one year, unless the patient cannot tolerate further treatment or side effects or shows evidence of tumor progression.

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In addition to the effectiveness of the therapy, patients will also be evaluated for quality of life and stress level via several brief questionnaires. Baseline and post-trial blood and imaging tests will also be compared.

For more information about the clinical trial, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.


Neurological Surgery PC, Rockville Centre NY Press Release

K Ogawa, Y Yoshii et al. Phase II trial of radiotherapy after hyperbaric oxygenation with chemotherapy for high-grade gliomas, British Journal of Cancer (2006) 95, 862–868. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603342 www.bjcancer.com, Published online 5 September 2006