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Alternative Therapies for Managing Mesothelioma Symptoms

In addition to physical symptoms like fatigue and loss of appetite, cancer patients also experience emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression. Researchers are examining a number of non-traditional methods for alleviating both of these symptom types.

Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

In a study titled What research evidence is there for the use of art therapy in the management of symptoms in adults with cancer? A systematic review, published February 2011 in Psycho-Oncology, researchers searched electronic databases, medical journals and questioned personal contacts to identify clinical studies examining adult cancer population and art therapy intervention. There were no language or date restrictions.

They found 12 studies that met their criteria for being included in this study.
Symptoms investigated included emotional, physical, and social functioning, and spiritual concerns. Methods for evaluating the usefulness of art therapy on this population included questionnaires, in-depth interviews, patients’ artwork, therapists’ accounts of sessions, and stress markers in salivary samples.

While they couldn’t get an overall quantifiable result because of how much the studies differed in their design, they did observe that art therapy is currently used predominantly by breast cancer patients. However, the researchers went on to add:

Art therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that is being used by adults with cancer to manage a spectrum of treatment-related symptoms and facilitate the process of psychological readjustment to the loss, change, and uncertainty characteristic of cancer survivorship. Research in this area is still in its infancy.

Another study titled Mind-body treatments for the pain-fatigue-sleep disturbance symptom cluster in persons with cancer, published January 2010 in the Journal of Pain Symptom Management studied the role mind-body interventions, such as relaxation, imagery/hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral therapy/coping skills training, meditation, music, and virtual reality, had on pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance.

The researchers conducted a search of the studies in the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline, and PsychInfo databases through March 2009. Forty-three studies addressing five types of mind-body interventions met the criteria to be included in this study.

The scientists observed that the imagery/hypnosis intervention and cognitive-behavioral therapy/coping skills training produced improvement in all the three symptoms of pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance individually. Relaxation resulted in improvements in pain and sleep disturbance. Meditation showed beneficial effects on fatigue and sleep disturbance. Music interventions helped relieve pain and fatigue. However, there weren’t any trials found that tested the mind-body interventions specifically for the pain-fatigue-sleep disturbance symptom cluster.

In a third study titled Treatment-related fatigue and exercise in patients with cancer: a systematic review, published in the May-June 2009 edition of MEDSURG Nursing looked at the role exercise played in relieving fatigue caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

The researchers performed a systematic review of 19 English-language studies from the United States, Europe, and Australia, conducted between January 2000 and October 2006 that examined the effect of exercise on chemotherapy and/or radiation-related fatigue. Ten of these studies fit the criteria to be included in this study.

The scientists found that eight of the 10 studies showed that regular, continuous exercise resulted in less fatigue among the group participating in exercise programs. However, they also noted that the studies were limited by the “lack of a universal definition for fatigue, and therefore, the lack of a universal measuring instrument to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.” In spite of this, they felt there was enough evidence to include an individualized exercise program for patients on chemotherapy and radiation therapy as part of their treatment. Especially since the studies showed no indication of adverse effects, such as increased fatigue or falls.

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