We all know how important oxygen is in our lives. Without
it, no living, breathing being could survive. Research from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has
now proven that measuring how much oxygen a tumor is getting can be an important
link in guiding radiation therapy.
This discovery is hugely important because we know that a lack
of oxygen actually stimulates the growth
of new blood vessels within a tumor, which in turn leads to or canlead to metastasis and genetic
instability within that tumor. Therefore, this research establishes the theory
that if cancer tissues with low levels of oxygen (hypoxic tissues) can be made to “breathe in” extra oxygen, or if
their oxygen content can be increased, then the tumor’s growth will be slowed
and therapy will be improved.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found
that smaller tumors seen on an MRI
were significantly better oxygenated
than larger tumors were, indicating that the more oxygen a tumor takes in, the
slower will be its growth.
This type of research is definitely a new form of
personalized medicine. So, going forward, it is likely that the oxygen
concentration of tumors will now be measured, as well as their response to
oxygen, and that, after these measurements are taken, oxygen interventions will
be given while a patient is receiving radiation therapy. So, you can look
forward to hearing more about this topic soon, and to seeing women wearing
oxygen masks while they’re receiving breast radiation!