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Fighting Mesothelioma Cancer With Alternative Medicine

Nov 19, 2007
Research in alternative medicine and conventional therapies to treat Mesothelioma cancer continues to be on the forefront to try and find a cure for this disease. Until an alternative is discovered and shows promise, conventional drugs and therapies such as Alimta and other chemotherapy drugs, surgery to remove tumors, and radiation therapy will be used to slow the cancer growth.

In addition to conventional treatments, a number of therapies from alternative medicine may be able to reduce symptoms of mesothelioma. Called complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, this diverse group of medical and health care options and practices aren't considered to be a part of mainstream medical practice. However, that doesn't mean that they're ineffective. Some health care providers practice both CAM and conventional medicine, and combine the two with good results. This is referred to as integrative medicine. As much as thirty-six percent of America's adult population are using some form of CAM. This rises to more than sixty percent if prayer and megavitamin therapy are included in the definition of alternative and complementary practices. Rates of alternative therapy use are highest among patients with serious illnesses such as mesothelioma cancer.

Some treatments offered by alternative medicine include acupuncture to relieve pain following surgery for tumor removal, ginger to treat the nausea and vomiting that chemotherapy causes, massage to treat pain from all kinds of cancers, and combining mistletoe extract with chemotherapy to treat tumors. Immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, is also becoming more common. In this therapy, substances called biological response modifiers are used to improve the immune system's ability to recognize and destroy cancer cells, as well as to fight off other diseases.

Photodynamic therapy uses a drug that sensitizes tissues to light, then destroys cancerous cells by exposing them to a laser set to a specific frequency. Gene therapy is a new, but advancing field which treats potentially fatal diseases by modifying an individual's genes therapeutically. Herbal medicines, traditional practices from countries such as China and Japan, and spiritual treatments are also used in CAM. Not all of these therapies have the ability to affect mesothelioma directly, and their effects will tend to vary by patient. However, they can be a big help in managing symptoms and side effects while using conventional treatments.

Those who are interested in using complementary or alternative medicine in their cancer treatment should ask their health care providers. It's important to get the answers to a few questions when considering any therapy, whether alternative or conventional. Information such as the expected benefits of the therapy versus the risks, the potential side effects, and, in the case of alternative or complementary treatments, whether the therapy will interfere with treatments you're already undergoing are helpful. If the therapy is part of a clinical trial, find out who the sponsor is. Many alternative therapies aren't covered fully by health insurance. Some aren't covered at all. It's important to find out before beginning a CAM therapy whether or not your insurance will pay for it. A good place to start finding out about your options is the NCCAM website at http://nccam.nih.gov. From there, you'll be able to get the information to decide what therapies, both conventional and alternative, are right for you.
About the Author
From personal research Maria Nelson provides an online research tool for cancer patients; with an emphasis on Mesothelioma cancer. Find resources to specialized cancer centers, doctors and a Mesothelioma attorneys directory for legal consideration.
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