Experimental Mesothelioma Treatments
In addition to the traditional forms of supportive care, cancer patients are examining complementary and alternative treatments to relieve symptoms. While scientific research does not support these methods as curative treatments for the disease itself, there are studies that suggest they can be used to increase the quality of life.
Yoga as a Mesothelioma Treatment
The American Cancer Society notes that there are over 100 different types of yoga, but they are all essentially designed to use movement, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote a union between mind, body, and spirit.
In its discussion of the topic, the nonprofit follows the guidance of yoga practitioners in recommending that a 20 minute – one hour yoga session should be done either at the beginning or end of the day. The session is initiated with the practitioner sitting in an upright position and engaging in slow, gentle movements in combination with slow deep breaths that originate in the abdomen. The session might also include meditation and the repetition of a word or phrase that will allow for greater relaxation. The practitioner will need to perform several yoga sessions weekly in order to become proficient enough to benefit from the effects.
In an article titled “Integrating Yoga into Cancer Care” published February 2008 in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, the author SA Di Stasio says:
“Yoga classes in the United States generally consist of asanas (postures), which are designed to exercise every muscle, nerve, and gland in the body. The postures are combined with pranayama, or rhythmic control of the breath. As a complementary therapy, yoga integrates awareness of breath, relaxation, exercise, and social support–elements that are key to enhancing quality of life in patients with cancer. Yoga practice may assist cancer survivors in managing symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and fatigue.”
Acupuncture as a Mesothelioma Treatment
A staple of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture uses the application of needles, heat and pressure to certain areas of the skin to return the body to proper functioning.
The National Cancer Institute says that the predominate way that acupuncture can improve the quality of life in cancer patients is as a method of relieving the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Chinese researchers have made several studies of the effect acupuncture has on chemotherapy-induced vomiting. In one of the most recent, “Therapeutic Effect of Acupuncture on Cisplatin-Induced Vomiting”, published January 2009 in Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion), researchers conducted a trial using 66 chemotherapy patients. Thirty-three of these patients were put in Group A, which received chemotherapy, tropisetron (anti-nausea/vomiting drug used for chemotherapy patients) and acupuncture therapy in the first chemotherapy cycle and the same chemotherapy program, tropisetron and sham acupuncture (needles weren’t inserted into traditional acupuncture sites) in the next cycle.
The other 33 patients were assigned to Group B, which received chemotherapy, tropisetron and sham acupuncture in the first chemotherapy cycle and the same chemotherapy program, tropisetron and acupuncture therapy in the next cycle.
Acupuncture treatment or sham acupuncture was given for six days, once daily and 5 mg of tropisetron was given for six days, once daily. The therapeutic effects on nausea and vomiting in the six days were compared between the two groups in both chemotherapy cycles.
The researchers observed that on the second day of the cycles, nausea was controlled in 87.1 percent of the patients receiving acupuncture as compared with 59.4 percent of the patients that received sham acupuncture. On the fourth day, 79 percent of the patients receiving acupuncture had controlled vomiting, as compared with 57.8 percent of the group who received sham acupuncture. The scientists also noted that, “the therapeutic effects on vomiting in the 3rd-6th day in the acupuncture group were better than those in the sham-acupuncture group.”
The researchers concluded from these findings that acupuncture used in conjunction with an anti-vomiting drug can effectively decrease the incidence and level of cisplatin-induced vomiting.