Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. Patients diagnosed with the cancer are typically given a year or less to live. However, newer treatments performed by mesothelioma specialists are yielding better results, and the five year survival rate for patients who take advantage of these treatments is increasing. In order to be eligible for advanced treatment options, you must be in the early stages of mesothelioma.
Traditional Mesothelioma Treatments
The most common treatments for mesothelioma are:
Two or more of these treatments are often combined.
Photodynamic therapy uses a special kind of light to kill the cancer cells. First, you are injected with a drug that makes cancer cells sensitive to the light. Then, after the cells have had time to absorb the drug, the light is applied and kills the cells.
Gene therapy is one of the newer and very promising treatments. It is currently only available through clinical trials. The type of gene therapy typically used to treat mesothelioma is called “suicide gene therapy.” It is used in combination with chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy can either prompt your body to attack the cancer or increase its ability to fight it. Normally your immune system will not attack cancer cells because it does not recognize them as a threat.
Active immunotherapy uses cancer cells from your body to create a vaccine. After the vaccine is injected, your body recognizes the cancer cells as harmful, and will start fighting the cancer.
Passive immunotherapy boosts your immune system’s response to cancer, but does not directly activate your immune system.
While “curative” treatments are not available to patients in the later stages of mesothelioma, palliative care is necessary for all mesothelioma victims. Palliative care is used to relieve symptoms of the disease such as:
Pain management plays a large role in mesothelioma treatment. Mesothelioma is extremely painful. Controlling pain is not just a matter of comfort; it actually promotes good health and healing. If you have mesothelioma, you should not avoid or put off addressing the pain it causes. Pain management will certainly include using medications, but other treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation are also encouraged to boost the effectiveness of the medications and to help with the depression and anxiety that most cancer patients must contend with.
Loss of appetite due to the symptoms of mesothelioma as well as some of the treatments can lead to malnutrition. The cancer itself can change the way your body uses food, resulting in weight loss and malnutrition. If you have mesothelioma you need to work with a nutritionist who specializes in nutrition for cancer patients. The dietary recommendations for cancer patients are very different to what is considered healthy for most people.
Maintaining good nutrition is an essential part of mesothelioma treatment. It will help your body withstand the treatments, and help keep you feeling as well as possible.
Healthy Immune System
The common thread in mesothelioma survival stories is a healthy immune system. Many forms of alternative medicine can be employed to improve immune system health. Unfortunately, few doctors will give you guidance or even acknowledge the importance of aggressively pursuing methods to boost your body’s immunity.
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