When a person has cancer like mesothelioma, he or she is not simply fighting the disease: it’s also a battle against fatigue, stress, pain, and treatment side effects. While there are medications to help with many of these issues, patients and doctors are increasingly turning to complementary therapies for relief.
When a treatment is used in tandem with traditional medical care, the American Cancer Society terms that treatment as complementary therapy. The goal of these treatments is not to cure the cancer, but to enhance the quality of the patient’s life, which can, in fact, lead to a longer life expectancy. Some examples of alternative therapies used as complementary treatments include acupuncture, massage, and meditation.
In the past, many doctors shunned these alternative cancer treatments, but a recent report published by NBC stated that doctors and hospital administrators are embracing complementary treatments more and more after seeing how successful these therapies can be. According to NBC, a study published in 2010 found that “70 percent of comprehensive cancer centers offered information on complementary therapies on tier websites.” Acupuncture was the most common alternative therapy mentioned.
Acupuncture, a very popular alternative therapy, can be used to treat nausea and pain, which are often side effects of traditional mesothelioma treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. According to Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor at NBC, “The good cancer centers believe that acupuncture is a cornerstone of integrative medicine.”
At this time, a feasibility study is being conducted by Lorenzo Cohen, PhD., Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Tezas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The goal of the study is to determine whether Tibetian meditation can help improve women’s quality of life after chemotherapy for breast cancer.
A leader in cancer treatment, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Service has provided complementary therapies to address the physical and emotional issues that affect cancer patients’ lives.
If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment and are interested in learning more about complementary treatments, talk with your doctor or your patient advocate: they can get you more information and recommend treatments that may be appropriate for your unique situation.