Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is caused by heavy exposure to asbestos. Although the disease tends to spread quickly and respond less-than-favorably to treatment, there are several ways mesothelioma patients can extend their prognosis.
Begin Treatment as Soon as Possible!
By the time most mesothelioma patients are diagnosed with their disease, the cancer is already in stage III or stage IV. As with most cancers, the more advanced the cancer is, the harder it is to treat. As a result, patients have little time to waste between being diagnosed and beginning treatment. Ideally, patients should begin looking into their treatment options within a few days of their diagnosis.
Find a Mesothelioma Expert
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. Fewer than 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. As a result, only a handful of doctors have firsthand experience in treating the disease. Working with a team of doctors on a specialized mesothelioma team can give you the best shot at fighting your cancer. Some of the leading mesothelioma experts in the nation include:
- Dr. David SugarbakerÂ – Brigham and Womenâ€™s Hospital, Boston, MA
- Dr. Robert Cameron â€“ UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
- Dr. Harvey Pass â€“ NYU Medical Center, New York City, NY
Don’t Limit Your Treatment Options
Most mesothelioma doctors suggest a treatment regimen of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. These three therapies â€“ or any combination of them â€“ are the standard treatment choices for mesothelioma, but there are a number of other less popular alternative treatments that may be able to benefit people with mesothelioma.
Gene therapy, cryotherapy, homeopathy, and even acupuncture can all play a role in alternative or supplemental mesothelioma treatment. Even if your oncologist has not suggested any of these options, do your own research, write down any alternative options you are interested in, and be sure to bring them up at your next doctorâ€™s appointment.
Join a Support Group
Many people think that support groups are for weak people or people who only want to talk about their feelings. In reality, mesothelioma support groups can be invaluable networks for mesothelioma patients and their families as they navigate this confusing time in their life. In addition to the emotional support provided at these groups, patients can connect with others in the same situation to share stories and advice about treatment and coping.
Listen to Your Body
Because of the aggressive nature of mesothelioma symptoms and the fatigue that can be associated with mesothelioma treatments, there may be days that you find it taxing just to get out of bed.Â On days like these, donâ€™t hesitate to call on a loved one to help out. However, on days when you feel more energetic, consider taking several steps to increase your overall health.
When you have the energy, try incorporating light workouts (such as a casual walk or some gentle yoga poses) into your daily schedule, or prepare a weekâ€™s worth of nutritious meals to enjoy on days when you donâ€™t feel like cooking. Remember that you will need plenty of rest as your body fights the cancer, so be sure to listen to its cues and sleep, eat or be active when it feels right.