May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Benefits of HBOT After Major Skin Cancer Treatment
May 1, 2022
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime? If detected early, most basal or squamous cell cancers are highly treatable. But in some cases, a more invasive cancer like melanoma may require surgery and radiation therapy. Skin grafting, or the removal of skin from an unaffected area and using it to cover lost or damaged skin, is sometimes also needed for wound closure and healing.
The surgical application of skin grafts or flaps can increase the likelihood of infection so great care must be taken during recovery. Some surgical sites do not heal properly because radiation can dramatically reduce blood flow and much-needed oxygenation to the skin and tissues. If wound healing is significantly compromised, the patient’s physician – typically an oncologist, dermatologist or plastic surgeon – may recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to promote healing and preserve the skin. It is a safe, non-invasive treatment that targets and repairs damaged organs and tissues.
During HBOT the patient is placed in a hyperbaric chamber and breathes 100 percent oxygen under atmospheric pressure up to three times higher than normal. This boosts oxygen levels in the affected tissues, helps prevent infection, and promotes healing by encouraging the formation of new blood vessels.
In addition to faster healing, HBOT can reduce the need for additional surgical procedures. It can also help patients avoid further trauma and negative psychosocial effects due to aesthetics. Many skin cancer patients who require skin grafting report that HBOT has given them a new lease on life.
If you or someone you love has had aggressive treatment for skin cancer and suffers from a non-healing wound, ask your physician about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. For more information, please contact the Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbarics at 580-531-6441.