If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you’re probably wondering what to do next. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are plenty of proactive steps you can take to address the symptoms of this terrible disease.
Understanding Your Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Mesothelioma is a dangerous type of cancer that crops up in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. The only known cause is exposure to asbestos, a mineral fiber widely used in construction and manufacturing industries until the 1980s. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled or ingested, can damage the mesothelial cells that line the organs and lead to the development of mesothelioma.
The prognosis of mesothelioma vary based on the stage of cancer when diagnosed, the location of the tumor, and the patient’s overall health. Mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage because the symptoms do not typically appear until later stages of the disease. Unfortunately, the prognosis for mesothelioma is generally poor, with a five-year survival rate of around 10% to 20%.
The prognosis for mesothelioma is worse for patients with advanced-stage disease, older age, poor overall health, and certain types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, which is the name for the type of mesothelioma that affects the lining of the lungs, is the most common form. Then there’s pericardial mesothelioma, which impacts the lining of the heart and is the rarest form.
Treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. These treatments can help manage the symptoms of mesothelioma, slow the progression of the disease, and improve the patient’s quality of life. However, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and the goal of treatment is usually to extend the patient’s life and improve their symptoms.
8 Ways To Improve Mesothelioma Symptoms
Because there is no known cure for mesothelioma, the best thing you can do is address the symptoms of mesothelioma to improve your quality of life and extend your life.
Here are several suggestions and techniques:
Practice Pain Management
Pain is probably the most common symptom of mesothelioma. It can be caused by cancer itself, but also by the treatments that are used to fight it. To manage pain, your doctor may prescribe pain medication, such as opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or nerve blocks. (You may find that complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or massage, can help reduce pain.)
Breathing difficulties are common in people with mesothelioma, particularly those with pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. Breathing exercises, such as deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, can enhance your lung functioning and limit frustrating spells where you’re short of breath. A respiratory therapist can provide guidance on the most effective breathing exercises for your specific needs.
Read Also: 6 Unusual Signs of Cancer
Nutrition And Hydration
Mesothelioma and its treatments can cause a range of side effects that can affect your appetite and digestion. Eating a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated can help manage these symptoms. A diet rich in fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains can help provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. Drinking lots of water and other hydrating fluids can also help prevent dehydration.
Regular physical activity can help manage mesothelioma symptoms, improve overall health, and boost your mood. Light exercises, such as walking or yoga, can help reduce fatigue, improve lung function, and strengthen muscles. However, it is essential to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your condition.
Mesothelioma can be a challenging and emotionally taxing disease, and seeking emotional support is essential for managing its symptoms. Connecting with a therapist or joining a support group can help you cope with the emotional challenges of mesothelioma. Additionally, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques can help manage stress and anxiety.
Palliative care is a type of care that emphasizes and prioritizes improving the quality of life for those with cancer and serious illnesses. Palliative care can be provided in addition to cancer treatments and may include pain management, symptom management, emotional support, and spiritual care. This type of care is designed to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people with mesothelioma and their families.
Alternative therapies, including massage, acupuncture, and even herbal remedies, may help manage mesothelioma symptoms. However, it is essential to discuss these therapies with your doctor before trying them, as some may interfere with cancer treatments or worsen symptoms.
Clinical trials are studies that test frontier treatments and brand-new therapies for mesothelioma. Participating in a clinical trial may provide access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies that are not yet widely available. However, it is essential to discuss the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial with your doctor before making any decisions.
Improving Your Prognosis
As mentioned, mesothelioma doesn’t have the greatest long-term prognosis. However, you can absolutely improve your short-term prognosis by proactively addressing some of the biggest mesothelioma symptoms. Use this article as a starting point, but don’t let it serve as a substitute for getting medical attention from your team of doctors.