Oxygen can assist in the fight against breast cancer        

Breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers, affecting one in 27 South African women. While there has been an improvement in the methods and effectiveness of treatment, Joseph Winer, Managing Director at Oxygenate says oxygen remains one of the most powerful ways of fighting the malicious disease.

“Some breast cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy, can cause damage to healthy tissue around the area being treated. Usually, that tissue damage heals normally over time. But sometimes nearby blood vessels lose the ability to supply enough blood to the healing area. When the blood supply is limited, cells do not get enough oxygen. This slows the healing process even more and sometimes places the patient at risk of developing an infection,” says Winer. 

According to the National Cancer Registry, breast cancer affects approximately 27 in 100 000 women in South Africa and accounts for 16% of cancer deaths amongst women. The number of positive cancer cases is on the rise when looking at prevalence data from yesteryears.  

But Winer says, like most diseases, early detection and self-examination is vital and can save lives. 

“When treating an ailment, the earlier it is discovered the better the chances of beating it. Breast cancer is curable. Women are encouraged to perform monthly breast self-examination in conjunction with leading healthy lifestyles. Should they be unsure, they must consult a medical professional. Women over the age of 45 must go to have regular mammography. Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram,” Winer says. 

According to research published in US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, hypoxia (oxygen starvation) is a critical hallmark of solid tumours and involves enhanced cell survival, angiogenesis (development of new blood cells), glycolytic metabolism, and metastasis. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment has displayed tumour-inhibitory effects in certain cancer subtypes. 

“Oxygen not only accelerates the healing of wounds and pain alleviation; it can also inhibit the development of cancerous cells or tumours. Research in the cancer domain is ongoing, and due to the complexities of each cancer, often more research is required. But oxygen has been proven to have beneficial results for breast cancer patients,” concludes Winer.