Alternative Treatments for Seniors with Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that often calls for an equally aggressive, multidisciplinary treatment plan. It could include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Yet that is not always the best, quality-of-life option — particularly for seniors.

Alternative treatment plans are becoming more accepted, more effective and better designed. And they are considerably less physically and mentally taxing.

Inhalation or ingestion of microscopic asbestos fibers that become lodged in the thin lining around the lungs or the abdomen causes mesothelioma. Over time, they develop scaring that can lead to a variety of serious problems, including cancer.

The long latency period (20-50 years) between exposure and diagnosis leads to an inordinate amount of seniors being affected. And because mesothelioma is so difficult to diagnose, it often metastasizes before it is found.

Even with the most aggressive treatment plan, there are no guarantees of stopping the progression, only slowing it with limited results. For many patients, alternative medicine becomes a more viable option.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the phrase most often used to describe the approach that is outside of mainstream medicine.

There also are innovative clinical trials where the latest immunotherapy and gene therapy drugs are being tested and refined. Although they are not FDA approved, some are showing increasingly positive results and offer hope for beating a mesothelioma prognosis.

Cancer patients can use a wide range of CAM treatments. Integrative oncology programs bring together clinically proven complementary therapies with conventional medicine to treat the whole person, not just the cancer.

Alternative therapies can include:

  • Body based therapies like acupuncture, acupressure and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (also known as TENS). All are designed to relieve pain and stress.
  • Complete healing systems that involve traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, a heling system from India. Both involve herbs, mind-body techniques, dietary changes, body-cleansing therapies and lifestyle changes.
  • Emotional effect therapies include meditation, counseling and pet involvement.
  • Energy therapies that strive to produce a sense of balance and well-being within a person. They may include therapeutic touch or Reiki, which involves pressure points and energy pathways in the body.
  • There is a wide range of homeopathy medicine derived from natural substances that come from minerals, plants and animals, often touted for anti-cancer properties.

Some research shows the use of cannabis oil, derived from the marijuana plant, helps cancer patients. Many states are passing laws to regulate medical marijuana, bringing it more into the mainstream.

It’s important to know alternative and complementary medicines are not endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but they serve as a valuable resource for those opting against aggressive standard treatment, or something to complement it.

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