The Military and Asbestos: Veterans' Mesothelioma Treatment Options PART TWO

This three-part series explores issues relating to the major branches of the U.S. Military—
including the Navy, Army and Air Force—and exposure to asbestos, a highly toxic carcinogen that causes illnesses like asbestosis, mesothelioma and other types of cancer. In PART TWO, we explore both traditional and alternative mesothelioma treatment options for veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, as well as how a diagnosis is made.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma: Symptoms and Testing

Mesothelioma is diagnostically challenging, because it almost always takes several decades, from the time of exposure, to develop. Additionally, mesothelioma from asbestos symptoms are easy to confuse with common ailments and therefore are easily ignored by victims who are unaware of the exposure that places them in a high-risk category. Without knowing about a patient’s risk for mesothelioma, most doctors are not quick to suspect or test for the relatively rare condition.

Once mesothelioma is considered, early screening usually includes a chest x-ray and/or lung function tests. Advanced imaging techniques, like an MRI or CAT scan, are also commonly used to look for signs of the disease. To conclusively diagnose mesothelioma, however, doctors must conduct a biopsy—which involves the removal of affected cells from the site of the suspected cancer for analysis and laboratory testing.

Traditional Mesothelioma Treatment Options

The three most common cancer treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy—all of which also constitute the go-to triad of mesothelioma treatment. Often, some combination of those three are used together and in some strategic order—called multimodal treatment.

Surgery to remove the cancer-affected tumor is usually considered to be the most effective mesothelioma treatment option, though it is often substantially invasive in nature. Chemo or radiation therapy is often used after surgery in an attempt to kill any remaining cancer cells that tumor removal may have left behind.

Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Treatment of mesothelioma cancer often extends beyond the lines of traditional medicine, with some sources reporting as many as 70% of mesothelioma sufferers using some form of alternative healing. When it comes to thinking outside the box of treatment, many different forms of natural and/or holistic methods have been identified by a wide variety of sources. And many patients choose to use alternative mesothelioma treatment options together with conventional courses of care.

Plants and herbs purported to have medicinal properties effective in fighting cancer are a popular alternative treatment option. Just a few that have been utilized for that purpose include:

Ukrain, a much-studied, partially synthetic compound of a common kind of wild plant and a chemo drug called Thiotepa
Cat’s Claw, a tropical vine native to parts of South America
Astragalus, a Chinese dried root that has been clinically studied within the scope of its native region
Iscador, an extract of a rare type of mistletoe found exclusively in Europe