What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops from prolonged exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma destroys the mesothelium, a protective, two-layered membrane that shields several organs in the body, including the abdomen, the lungs and the heart.
Mesothelioma forms from carcinogenic asbestos filaments. Asbestos, when contacted, propels these filaments into the air, making them susceptible to inhalation. When perpetually inhaled over a long period of time, these filaments stick to the mesothelium and eat away at the protective tissues. The destruction of the mesothelium evolves by proliferation; the cancer spreads to other vital organs rendering the disease inoperable.
The majority of mesothelioma cases develop in the lining of the lungs or the internal wall of the chest cavity. Common symptoms attached mesothelioma include: painful breathing, pleural effusion (build-up of fluids in the pleural cavity), painful coughing, night sweats and severe weight loss.
Mesothelioma is almost impossible to detect in its early stages. Complications regarding early diagnosis stem from the cancer’s slow-developing symptoms and innocuous cellular structure. Mesothelioma patients will only begin to notice symptoms 20-50 years following their initial contact to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is categorized by stage. Available treatment options and the patient’s life expectancy are largely dependent on the cancer’s stage at the time of diagnosis. As the disease shifts through stages it becomes more deadly. The categorization of mesothelioma is directly linked to proliferation; a stage IV mesothelioma diagnosis infers metastasis to several areas of the body. The slow-developing nature of the mesothelioma camouflages the cancer and prevents it from being detected in its earliest stages—only 10% of mesothelioma patients catch the disease in its first stage. The bulk of mesothelioma patients, therefore, secure diagnosis when the cancer is inoperable. Mesothelioma life expectancy following diagnosis, on average, is only 4 to 18 months.
Mesothelioma comes in three main forms: pericardial, pleural and peritoneum. Pericardium mesothelioma affects the layer of tissue that covers the lungs; peritoneum mesothelioma attacks the peritoneum, which lines the abdominal cavity; and pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of mesothelioma, attacks the pleura, which is a thin membrane of lubricating cells that surrounds the chest wall and lungs.
Mesothelioma is categorized by the following stages:
Stage I Mesothelioma: The earliest stage exhibits a localized tumor typically located in the lining of the lungs, the diaphragm or the lining of the sac that protects the heart. Patients lucky enough to secure a 1st stage diagnosis often qualify surgical procedures to extract the cancer. These operations may cure the patient of the cancer.
Stage II Mesothelioma: An advanced stage of mesothelioma. In stage II, the cancer has proliferated beyond the point of origin. Stage II mesothelioma may be located in the lining of the lymph nodes or in the chest wall. The cancer, as in the 1st stage, may also be located in other in lining of the lungs, the heart sac or the diaphragm. Although surgery may be an option for Stage II mesothelioma patients, the attached life expectancy has greatly decreased.
Stage III Mesothelioma: The most common stage for mesothelioma diagnosis. During stage III the mesothelioma symptoms become tangible. The cancer has spread to the mediastinum, the lining of the peritoneum, the heart, beyond the diaphragm and/or the chest wall. Stage III mesothelioma cancer has a grim life expectancy, because the cancer has proliferated to the other side of the chest. Stage III mesothelioma patients are only eligible for palliative mesothelioma treatment options. These treatments are applied to ease the symptoms and bolster the individual’s quality of life.
Stage IV Mesothelioma: The final stage of mesothelioma. The cancer, in stage IV, has spread to distant locations in the body, making it inoperable. The final stage of mesothelioma will prove painful for the patient. Palliative surgeries or other non-curable treatment options are suggested to improve the patient’s quality of life. Life expectancy during this stage is drastically decreased (typically 4 to 18 months after diagnosis is secured).
The ability to secure alternative mesothelioma treatments is dependent on when the cancer is detected. Obviously, more treatment options, including alternative methods, may be applied to a mesothelioma patient who received an early diagnosis, than one whose cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.
Alternative Treatment Options for Mesothelioma Patients:
Although a medical professional will invariably suggest tradition mesothelioma treatment options (chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery) first, a mesothelioma patient should look into several alternative options to alleviate the pain associated with the cancer. Coupling traditional methods with alternative ones is arguably the most efficient means to combat the cancer.
The majority of alternative mesothelioma treatment options are used to offset or mitigate the side effects associated with more traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. Alternative mesothelioma treatment options are not curative; they only provide relief and are applied to bolster a mesothelioma sufferer’s quality of life.
When paired with a traditional mesothelioma method, alternative options may prove beneficial by controlling pain and promoting a balance between the individual’s mind and body. A large percentage of mesothelioma patients find alternative mesothelioma treatments, such as meditation or massage, to be a welcomed break from the ongoing cycle of medication, doctor visits and the general stress that is attached to the cancer diagnosis.
The following alternative mesothelioma treatments may be applied to mitigate symptoms and bolster the patient’s quality of life:
Acupuncture: This alternative mesothelioma treatment option is a palliative therapy that involves the insertion of narrow needles into the skin at acute pressure points. Acupuncture, as an alternative mesothelioma treatment option, is proven to relieve pain and relax the muscles.
Aromatherapy: This alternative mesothelioma treatment method uses aromatic plants, oils and other soothing substances to be used in tandem with baths or massages. These fragrances lift a mesothelioma patient’s mood and make them forget about their horrific disease for a few moments. This palliative alternative treatment option promotes good health and is proven to reduce pain.
Biofeedback Therapy: Also referred to as mind-body therapy, this type of mesothelioma treatment option helps mesothelioma patients manage pain and side effects that arise from traditional treatment methods.
Bowenwork: This type of alternative treatment method elicits the relaxation response in the body to help mitigate the side effects associated with traditional treatment options like radiation, biopsies and radiation.
Chiropractic Care: An alternative mesothelioma treatment option used to help patients manage pain while going through traditional courses of treatment.
Craniosacral Therapy: An alternative mesothelioma therapy applied to help manage pain and the side effects that result from more conventional mesothelioma treatment options.
Feng Shui: A Chinese alternative mesothelioma therapy that attempts to alter the cancer patient’s environment to help the flow of Qi. This is a complimentary therapy that supports mesothelioma cancer patients throughout their fight.
Healing Touch Therapy: This alternative mesothelioma therapy invokes a relaxation response in patients to help mitigate the negative side effects attached to conventional cancer treatments.
Herbal and Nutritional Supplements: A number of natural herbs have natural medicinal aspects that are commonly used to treat seemingly incurable cancers or medical conditions. Nutritional supplements work in tandem with herbal remedies to offer the body necessary vitamins and minerals to combat the illness and fight off the infection.
Homeopathy: A number of mesothelioma cancer patients, have applied homeopathy because it is a natural alternative treatment option to traditional mesothelioma drugs. Homeopathy helps manage the side effects associated with traditional treatment options.
Lymph Drainage Therapy: Lympg damage therapy is an alternative technique that uses gentle manipulation to reduce swelling in the body following mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
Massage Therapy: One of the most common forms of alternative mesothelioma cancer treatment. Massage therapy is the practice of hands-on physical manipulation of soft tissue to relax and relieve pain. Common mesothelioma massage methods include: Acupressure, Balinese and Anma. All of these techniques displace different effects on the mesothelioma patient’s body. Mesothelioma massage, as an alternative treatment method, is typically used during traditional treatments to induce relaxation and ease muscle tension.
Meditation: This alternative mesothelioma treatment option refers to the process of moving one’s body into deep relaxation. Meditation is therapeutic in the sense that it helps mesothelioma patients develop a calm mind to make calculated decisions. Meditation also keeps the patient at peace with his/her health conditions and prognosis.
Naturopathy: A natural alternative therapy that focuses on nature remedying the disease and the body’s intrinsic ability to repair itself. Naturopathy is a holistic approach to treating mesothelioma cancer through the use of minerals, diet and lifestyle-based remedies.
Nutritional Resources: A healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition is an important factor when undergoing mesothelioma treatment. A strong body is better equipped to fight off the negative side effects imposed by the traditional treatment methods.
Training and Personal Fitness: Maintaining a level of movement can prove beneficial when undergoing mesothelioma treatment. Staying fit can improve outlook and overall quality of life.
TENS Therapy: Short for Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation, TENS therapy is a palliative care treatment option that utilizes electrical stimulation to acute areas of the body, resulting in a reduction of pain and increased levels of endorphins. This alternative mesothelioma treatment option is often administered by a physical therapist, but may also be undertaken at home if the patient can provide the necessary documentation to purchase TENS equipment.
Yoga: A combination of movement and meditation, Yoga is a Hindu art and designed to promote a heightened sense of oneness between an individual’s mind and body. Yoga induces contentment and relaxation.