Complementary Treatments for People with Mesothelioma

Complementary and Standard Medical Mesothelioma Care

The type of mesothelioma standard care and administered complementary treatments depends on a patient’s general health and stage of the disease or how far it has progressed. Your doctor may alternate treatment plans based on other factors as well. Each mesothelioma diagnosis is unique, which means patients will have different treatment plans.

The three standard medical care methods for treating mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation may sometimes be used in conjunction with surgery. Other emerging treatments that have become more common for fighting mesothelioma are targeted treatments, like cell-based immunotherapy. The idea is to provide personalized, effective treatment without damaging the patient. This kind of precision medicine offers many advantages for patients:

  • Maximized Efficiency: Precision medicine focuses on specific DNA changes, preserving other cell processes. This approach maximizes cancer-killing potential while minimizing impact on healthy cells.
  • Personalized Treatment: Prior to initiating treatment, medical professionals can forecast the tumor’s responsiveness to the medicine. This allows medical professionals to tailor a treatment plan accordingly, ensuring a more personalized and effective approach.
  • Limited Side Effects: Precision medicine aims to limit side effects, often predicting the ones likely to be experienced. With this knowledge, medical centers can assist patients in preventing and managing potential side effects more effectively.
  • Effective Care: Operating at the deepest cell level, precision medicine disrupts DNA signals that fuel tumor growth and spread. This targeted approach ensures effective care by addressing cancer at its origin.

What is a Complementary Treatment for Mesothelioma?

The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for cancer, more specifically mesothelioma, does not directly kill cancer cells 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 the side effects and symptoms caused by mesothelioma treatment.

The number of patients who seek out complementary and alternative treatments grows every day, especially after a mesothelioma diagnosis. A recent study reported more than one-third of cancer patients research additional treatments. It’s vital that patients seeking alternative methods also inform their cancer-care team, as complementary therapies could interfere with standard medical care, rendering them less effective.

Using Herbal Supplements for Complementary Treatments

Supplements tend to be the most common type of complementary therapy. These may include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and amino acids you eat or drink. They take the form of capsules, tablets, pills, powders, and liquids. When taken as intended, herbal supplements can provide added health benefits, but patients must never use them as standard medical care. Some herbal medicines that could help with cancer include, but are not limited to:

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Garlic

This herb not only possesses anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties but also plays a crucial role in safeguarding the immune system. Consuming at least one clove a day or opting for an extract of 100-1,000 milligrams ensures its efficacy in supporting your overall well-being.

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Ginger

Beyond its known ability to reduce inflammation and alleviate nausea, fresh ginger root stands out as the preferred choice for incorporation into meals. Opting for natural ginger in your diet can enhance its impact on promoting digestive comfort and overall health.

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Green tea

Green tea stands as a rich source of antioxidants, with polyphenols acting as powerful agents for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. Research indicates that enjoying up to three cups daily can contribute positively to your health, making it a delightful and beneficial addition to your routine.

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Ground Flaxseed

Abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, ground flaxseed not only offers potential cancer risk reduction but also ensures easy digestion. Sprinkling ground flaxseeds onto your meals provides a convenient and effective way to incorporate this nutrient-rich addition into your daily diet, supporting your overall health goals.

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Turmeric

A popular Indian spice, turmeric, a commonly used Indian spice, might have the potential to help the body in its fight against cancer. This is because turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has demonstrated promising results in killing cancer cells and slowing down the growth of tumors. To incorporate turmeric into your routine, you can either add it to your daily meals as a spice or consider taking it as a supplement. However, it’s important to note that the evidence supporting these benefits comes from studies conducted on cells and animals, specifically in the context of mesothelioma. Human trials and further research are needed to confirm its effectiveness in treating mesothelioma in people.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D, a key player in calcium absorption, is essential for the efficient functioning of the immune, muscle, and nervous systems. Meeting the daily recommended amount of 15mcg ensures that your body receives the necessary support for these crucial functions.

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Vitamin E

Recognized for its potential benefits for patients with lung cancer, Vitamin E serves as a nutrient-dense, potent antioxidant. Consuming the daily advised amount of 15mcg contributes to the body’s ability to combat free radicals and fight against cancer cells, offering a proactive approach to overall health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another important vitamin that plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system, acting as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage. It plays a key role in collagen synthesis, promoting skin health and wound healing, and enhances the absorption of non-heme iron for overall well-being. Including Vitamin C-rich foods in your diet, such as citrus fruits and vegetables, supports these benefits and contributes to a resilient and healthy body.

Medicinal Cannabis

Derived from the cannabis plant, medicinal cannabis produces a resin-containing substance that has been extensively studied for its potential to alleviate pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite associated with cancer or its therapies. It’s important to note that the legality of cannabis varies across countries and regions.

Mind and Body-Based Complementary Treatments

Mind and body-based therapies, tailored for individuals with mesothelioma, aim to provide holistic support, addressing both mental and physical aspects in the battle against cancer. The efficacy of these therapies is intricately linked to the patient’s mindset and openness to the treatment, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to well-being throughout the cancer journey.

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Hypnosis

Also known as a psychotherapeutic technique, this procedure involves a therapist placing the patient in a hyper-focused state. Once the patient is under, the hypnotist will offer suggestions to minimize distress and improve daily experiences, which can help reduce pain or nausea. Suggestions will differ depending on the patient. They can even make suggestions for the patient to exercise, eat healthily, or stop smoking.

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Meditation

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 breathing pattern or image, and then holding a specific posture or movement. Some meditation experts suggest repeating a word or phrase out loud, referred to as a mantra, while others prefer physical movement.

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Music and Art Therapy

Music and Art therapists work with healthcare professionals to come up with treatment plans for mesothelioma and other cancer patients. Music can be calming and relaxing, subsequently helping patients express or release emotions during this difficult time. Researchers have linked music and art therapy to the improvement of a patient’s emotional and physical state. The process can involve anything from listening and moving to music, singing, playing, and discussing music.

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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, and promote clear thinking.

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Yoga

Yoga is a practice that has existed for thousands of years. It involves breathing, exercise, stretching, and meditation. Patients with mesothelioma or other cancers have benefited from yoga because it can help with focusing the mind and improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

Body-Based Therapy Techniques

Body-based therapies, specifically tailored for individuals with mesothelioma, concentrate on physical treatments to enhance the body’s strength, alleviate pain, and improve mobility in the context of cancer treatment. Given the unique physical abilities of each person, it is crucial for patients to approach these therapies with caution, ensuring they do not overstrain the body. A personalized and careful implementation of body-based therapies contributes to a comprehensive approach to promoting physical well-being throughout the mesothelioma journey.

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Acupuncture

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 this form of treatment can be useful for reducing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, pain associated with cancer, chemotherapy-related neutropenia (the increased likelihood of infection), cancer fatigue, and radiation side effects.

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Acupressure

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 acupressure can assist persons with mesothelioma with dyspnoea, a symptom that generally affects pleural persons with mesothelioma and other people with lung illnesses. When a patient is experiencing chronically strained or difficulty breathing, they could be experiencing dyspnoea.

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Chiropractic/Osteopathic Manipulation

One of the most popular complementary treatments among patients, chiropractic care involves physical techniques that relieve pain and stiffness in joints and muscles. These ailments tend to increase during primary cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Chiropractic care can also decrease stress levels while increasing mobility, flexibility, and strength.

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Active Exercise

It’s important to continue exercising even after a cancer diagnosis to keep the body as healthy as possible. Persons with mesothelioma often suffer from fatigue, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Maintaining a workout plan can help combat this, too. Your doctor will have specific suggestions for how often and how much to push yourself when working out.

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TENS Therapy

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS, involves altering the pain perception of persons with mesothelioma 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.

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Risks Associated with Alternative Treatments

Some complementary therapies may lead people to want to experiment with alternative treatments, but it’s important to know the risks. One of the more common promises is that alternative treatments or even complementary treatments can cure mesothelioma. Some make claims the procedure is simple and without harmful side effects, but this isn’t always the case, and there is no data whatsoever to support the notion that such approaches work. Some risks associated with CAMs include:

● If alternative treatments are used instead of standard medical care, 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 and make false claims or mislabel products.

Next Steps When Evaluating Complementary Treatments

If you’re considering complementary and alternative therapies, have a detailed discussion with your healthcare provider to explore personalized options. Your doctor, who is experienced in tailoring treatments to your mesothelioma stage, treatment needs, and overall health, can guide your decisions effectively. Integrating complementary and alternative therapies with standard medical care offers a comprehensive approach to managing mesothelioma. To delve deeper into your options, consider scheduling a case evaluation with specialists or reach out to us for help with making a connection.

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