Primary Mesothelioma Treatments
Mesothelioma treatment depends mostly on the patient’s stage in the disease and general health. Your doctor may alternate treatment plans based on other factors as well. Patient details surrounding a mesothelioma diagnosis are unique with each patient, subsequently ensuring the treatment plans will also vary.
The three primary methods for treating mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can sometimes be used in conjunction with surgery, and vice versa. Other emerging treatments that have become more common for fighting mesothelioma are targeted treatments, like immunotherapy. Doctors can also administer these treatments in conjunction with others. Targeted therapies are generally less invasive than primary methods, like surgery and chemotherapy, but are also newer and less tested. Researchers have only been developing targeted therapies and immunotherapy within the past couple of decades.
Why Use Complementary Treatments?
The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for cancer, more specifically mesothelioma, does not directly kill cancer and should not be used in place of other treatments recommended by medical professionals. However, if adequately combined with primary therapies and the advice of a doctor, particular CAMs have been known to help patients feel better and cope with signs and symptoms caused by mesothelioma and treatment.
The number of patients that seek out complementary and alternative treatments grows every day, especially after a mesothelioma diagnosis. A recent study reported that over one-third of cancer patients seek out additional treatments. It’s vital that patients seeking alternative methods also inform their cancer-care team, as complementary therapies could interfere with primary treatment, rendering them less effective.
This form of alternative treatment tends to be the most common. Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and amino acids that you eat or drink. They take the form of capsules, tablets, pills, powders, and liquids. Sometimes when taken correctly, herbal supplements can provide added health benefits, but patients must never use them as primary treatment. Some herbal medicines that could help with cancer include, but are not limited to:
This herb helps with protecting your body. You need at least one clove a day or 100-1,000 milligrams of extract for efficacy.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties. It’s best to use fresh ginger root in your meals instead of ginger supplements.
Studies show that green tea is a good source of antioxidants. Polyphenols, a chemical in green tea, has been known to help with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. Drinking up to 3 cups each day can help get positive results.
Flaxseed is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce cancer risk. Ground flaxseed is the best version to take, sprinkling some of it on your meals for effect.
Also an Indian spice, turmeric could potentially help the body with cancer offense. This is because the curcumin in turmeric has been thought to kill cancer cells and slow growth. Add some of the seasonings to your meals, or take a supplement for a chance at results.
This vitamin helps the body ingest calcium while ensuring the immune, muscle and nervous systems run efficiently. 15mcg is the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin E has been known to help with lung cancers. The nutrient is fat-soluble and a substantial antioxidant that could help the body remove free radicals and fight cancer cells. 15mcg is the daily advised amount.
Mind and Body-Based Therapy
These therapies are designed to help the patient mentally and physically in their fight against cancer. Their efficacy tends to depend significantly on patient outlook and receptiveness of the treatment.
Also known as a psychotherapeutic technique, this procedure is between a therapist and the patient that involves the therapist putting the patient in a hyper-focused state. Once the patient is deeply hypnotized, the hypnotist will offer suggestions to minimize distress and improve system experiences, which can also mean reducing pain or nausea. What the hypnotist suggests will differ with the patient. They can even make suggestions for the patient to exercise, eat healthily, or stop smoking.
Also considered “integrative” therapy, meditation helps the user feel more at-ease and physically relaxed. This method involves the user finding a quiet place, focusing on a subject with steady breathing, and then holding a specific posture or movement. Some meditation specialists suggest repeating a word or phrase out loud, and others prefer physical movement.
Music therapists work with healthcare professionals to come up with treatment plans for mesothelioma or other cancer patients. Music can be calming and relaxing, subsequently helping patients to express emotions during this difficult time. Researchers have linked music therapy to the improvement of a patient’s emotional and physical state. The process can involve anything from listening and moving to music, to singing, making, and discussing music.
Tai Chi and Qigong
Both ancient forms of martial art, Tai Chi and Qigong combine breathing and steady, flowing movement to aid in restoring balance to the body’s energy system. These therapies have been known to help calm the mind and improve stability, reduce muscle and joint pain, promote focus, increase flexibility, energy, and clear thinking.
Yoga is an old practice that involves breathing, exercise, stretching, and meditation. Patients with mesothelioma or other cancers have benefited from yoga because it can help with strengthening the mind, improving strength, flexibility, and balance.
Body-based therapies focus on physical treatments to help strengthen the body, alleviate pain, and increase mobility. Each person’s physical ability to withstand these therapies differs and the patient should proceed carefully so as not to overstrain the body.
Acupuncture involves the stimulation of anatomical locations on the skin by penetration with thin, solid, metal needles. This form of complementary therapy can be used to treat a multitude of ailments and symptoms that are associated with mesothelioma. Clinical trials have shown that this form of treatment can be useful for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, pain associated with cancer, chemotherapy-related neutropenia (the increased likelihood of infection), cancer fatigue, and radiation side-effects.
This treatment is similar to acupuncture in that it utilizes pressure points, but acupressure involves applying physical pressure to those spots, versus using needles. Studies have shown that acupressure can aid mesothelioma patients with dyspnoea, a symptom that generally affects pleural mesothelioma patients and other people with lung illnesses. When a patient is experiencing chronically strained or difficulty breathing, they could be experiencing dyspnoea.
One of the most popular complementary treatments among patients, chiropractic care involves physical techniques that are meant to relieve pain and stiffness in joints or muscles. These ailments tend to increase when undergoing primary cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Chiropractic care can also decrease stress levels while increasing mobility, flexibility, and strength.
It’s important to continue exercising even after a cancer diagnosis to keep the body as healthy as possible to better fight tumors. Mesothelioma patients often suffer from fatigue and loss of physical performance, so continuing with a work-out plan can help combat this too. Your doctor will have specific suggestions for how often and how much to push yourself when working out.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS, involves altering pain perception of mesothelioma patients through the electrical stimulation of A-beta (sensory stimulation) nerve fibers, which subsequently can block other fibers. This treatment has proven beneficial as a complementary therapy to help with cancer pain.
Risks Associated with Complementary Treatments
Some therapies make false promises that lead patients astray. One of the more common promises is that alternative treatments can cure mesothelioma or other cancers. Some make claims that the procedure is simple and without harmful side-effects, but this isn’t always the case. Some risks associated with CAMs include:
- If a complementary or alternative treatment is used instead of traditional treatments such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, this could stop or delay remission, allowing cancer to grow and spread.
- Some therapies have caused health problems, including death.
- Certain supplements can increase the risk of cancer or other illnesses, especially if a person takes too much. Some companies don’t follow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations about making false claims or labeling products.
If complementary and alternative therapies sound like an option for you, have a detailed discussion with your doctor and consider their recommendations. They will be able to make the best choices based on your treatment needs, mesothelioma stage, and overall health. Patients can use CAMs in conjunction with primary treatments, but never as a replacement.