Advanced cancer treatment is a huge challenge and new ideas and strategies are required. Hydrogen exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may be exploited to control cancer, the occurrence and progression of which is closely related to peroxidation and inflammation.
We conducted a prospective follow-up study of 82 patients with stage III and IV cancer treated with hydrogen inhalation using the “real world evidence” method. After 3–46 months of follow-up, 12 patients died in stage IV. After 4 weeks of hydrogen inhalation, patients reported significant improvements in fatigue, insomnia, anorexia and pain.
Furthermore, 41.5% of patients had improved physical status, with the best effect achieved in lung cancer patients and the poorest in patients with pancreatic and gynecologic cancers. Of the 58 cases with one or more abnormal tumor markers elevated, the markers were decreased at 13–45 days (median 23 days) after hydrogen inhalation in 36.2%. The greatest marker decrease was in achieved lung cancer and the lowest in pancreatic and hepatic malignancies.
Of the 80 cases with tumors visible in imaging, the total disease control rate was 57.5%, with complete and partial remission appearing at 21–80 days (median 55 days) after hydrogen inhalation. The disease control rate was significantly higher in stage III patients than in stage IV patients (83.0% and 47.7%, respectively), with the lowest disease control rate in pancreatic cancer patients. No hematological toxicity was observed although minor adverse reactions that resolved spontaneously were seen in individual cases.
In patients with advanced cancer, inhaled hydrogen can improve patients’ quality-of-life and control cancer progression. Hydrogen inhalation is a simple, low-cost treatment with few adverse reactions that warrants further investigation as a strategy for clinical rehabilitation of patients with advanced cancer. The study protocol received ethical approval from the Ethics Committee of Fuda Cancer Hospital of Jinan University on December 7, 2018 (approval number: Fuda20181207).