Standard treatment for mesothelioma includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. As clinical trials continue, immunotherapy and virotherapy may join the list.

However, experts at one medical facility are not only prioritizing the eradication of cancer from the patients’ bodies but also improving their day-to-day quality of life.

A report from the Lexington, Kentucky, NBC television affiliate about the University of Kentucky’s Integrative Medicine and Health Clinic included an interview with a mesothelioma patient, Steven Konopka. At the facility, he and other cancer patients participate in music and art therapy, acupuncture and yoga, in addition to receiving massages. Each of these methods is aimed to diminish pain and tension caused by their specific cancer.

The strategy is working to reduce pain from Konopka’s mesothelioma, which he first noticed due to pain in his left side. In the video report, Konopka points to his rib cage area. Discomfort in this location is typically a symptom of pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the protective membrane that lines the lungs and chest cavity.

“I guess some of the (chemotherapy) drugs have side effects,” Konopka said, “and I was having trouble with joints, muscles. And I think the massage really helped there.”

Konopka is not alone in experiencing benefits to alternative treatment methods.

 

Why More Cancer Patients Are Using Alternative Treatment

According to a study done by experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, approximately one-third of cancer patients “are already embracing complementary and alternative medicines.”

Dr. Nina Sanford, who works at the center, reported the study’s findings in a YouTube video. She said therapies like yoga, meditation and acupuncture help improve mood and decrease stress, two of the primary reasons cancer patients turn to these practices. Sanford also said unorthodox treatments could provide a balance to traditional methods and inspire patients to attend their radiation and chemotherapy sessions.

“There’s a wide range (of these alternative medicines),” Sanford said. “They include things like herbal supplements, special diets. … I’ve always found that these practices certainly can be helpful. I would never recommend that my patients do this instead of engaging in conventional cancer care.”

These treatments also are enticing to patients because, like for Konopka’s mesothelioma, they decrease pain caused by the cancer.

However, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center report states that around 30% of cancer patients were withholding information about their alternative medicine uses from their doctors. Some herbal supplements and diets may not combine well with chemotherapy drugs, which is why patients should disclose all information to their doctors.

For Konopka and others at the University of Kentucky clinic, there is no incentive to hide their nonstandard treatments since the facility offers them. If medical centers followed the University of Kentucky clinic in providing on-site treatments, then there would be little risk of a toxic mix. Plus, cancer patients would have an improved quality of life during their treatment.

“In a large sense, it helps patients have some control,” said Dr. Connie Jennings, of the University of Kentucky clinic. “Once a patient is admitted into the hospital, and (they) put the gown on, (they’ve) just kind of lost control.”

The patient advocates at Mesothelioma Guide understand how difficult living with mesothelioma can be. Our website offers numerous resources regarding novel treatment options (such as virotherapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy) and pain management practices. For more information about alternative therapies, please contact our nurse advocate, Jenna Campagna, RN at jenna@mesotheliomaguide.com.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. The Things That Count: Clinic Offers Therapy In Integrative Medicine Practices. NBC Lexington, Kentucky. Retrieved from: https://lex18.com/news/covering-kentucky/2019/04/16/the-things-that-count-clinic-offers-therapy-in-integrative-medicine-practices/. Accessed: 04/18/19.
  2. Complementary and alternative medicines: Are they good for cancer patients?. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvadgILgkxw. Accessed: 04/18/19.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.