Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.
Traditional treatments have been ineffective at treating all but the earliest stages of mesothelioma, so it’s understandable that patients would want to explore other possible options. Although alternate treatments may not lead to a cure, they can be extremely helpful in managing both pain and anxiety.
The alternative therapies listed below can play an important role in your overall treatment plan.
There is much you can do to take the focus off of the physical side effects common with cancer treatment. All types of bodywork can help shift your focus away from the stresses of hospital stays and doctor visits. Any type of exercise, whether gardening or golfing, swimming or strolling will help clear your mind and strengthen your body. The World Cancer Research Fund International recommends some form of exercise at least 30 minutes each day.
Before embarking on any exercise program outside of your normal routine, discuss any potential limitations with your primary care doctor, pulmonologist and oncology providers.
Some insurers may help defray the cost of a gym membership. Your cancer center may offer free exercise programs either within the institution or in collaboration with a local gym.
A National Institute of Health (NIH) study reports, “massage therapy may ease pain and improve mood in advanced cancer patients.” Yoga and Tai Chi, both exercises that focus on movement and breath, are known to ease stress and depression. Qi-Gong emphasizes flowing movements similar to Tai Chi, with the addition of the use of imagery to “guide” energy throughout the body. And finally, acupuncture, the use of thin metal needles inserted into the skin at precise trigger points, has been shown to ease nausea, pain, and tension.
Your cancer center may offer an Integrative Oncology/Complementary Medicine program offering some of these services. Many insurers will cover acupuncture from an in-network provider.
Supplements such as selenium and citric acid are known to help support the immune system. And a University of Rochester study supports the effectiveness of ginger on helping to relieve nausea. But it’s especially important to consult with your specialist before taking any vitamin or dietary supplement—no matter how innocent the product may seem or how enthusiastically its “cancer curing” benefits may be advertised. Certain vitamins, such as vitamin C, for example, can actually interfere with chemotherapy drugs and reduce their effectiveness.
Next article in this series: “Put Yourself First”