Mesothelioma is rare cancer caused due to prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. These fibers damage the thin mesothelium layer of tissue by getting stuck in the linings of major organs. Common mesothelioma symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and chest or abdominal pain. This cancer may develop in the lungs, abdomen, or heart and often remains undetected until it has spread far beyond the original site when symptoms worsen. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and so anyone who comes in contact with this fiber is at risk of developing the cancer later in life. Besides construction workers, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics, veterans are also at a high risk of acquiring this disease.
The use of asbestos-derived products was most popular between the 1930s and early 1980s in the construction of barracks, storage rooms, planes, and even sleeping quarters of some officers. While serving in the military, veterans experienced exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Although its use was eventually banned—it was already too late for thousands of service members who had already come in contact with it. Unfortunately, the disease may stay dormant for several years and remain undiagnosed.
So, while there’s no cure for mesothelioma, veterans can try these top 5 things to improve prognosis and increase life expectancy:
1. Complementary Therapies
For mesothelioma navy veterans may receive several alternative treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Therapies used in conjunction with these are known as complementary therapies. They help alleviate pain or discomfort caused by the disease and ease some of the side effects of standard therapeutics. A few examples of complementary therapies veterans can add to their traditional regimen include:
It’s the insertion of several tiny needles through the skin at strategic points of the body. The primary objective of this technique is to relieve discomfort associated with several illnesses and medical conditions.
Dealing with cancer is an already exhaustive ordeal. And the cumulative effect of chemotherapy and other therapeutics on top of it can significantly amplify the patient’s stress levels. Studies show that massage therapy can help cancer patients by counteracting the adverse effects of the disease and its treatment.
- Ozone Therapy
Cancer cells are unable to survive in oxygen-rich environments. Based on this theoretical approach, ozone therapy creates a more aerobic niche to help the body fight off infection and other illnesses. It’s a simple procedure where after removing blood from a patient’s body, it’s oxygenated and then reintroduced into the body.
2. Anti-Cancer Diet
Patients must build their body strength and vitality when living with a terminal disease, like mesothelioma. Many individuals experience an improved prognosis when they adapt healthy choices into their diet. Incorporating certain foods in everyday meals can significantly impact the body’s ability to fight cancer. Some of these include the following:
- Fruits and Vegetables
Since plant-based foods have several essential nutrients, they are highly beneficial in helping a mesothelioma patient recover. Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts contain particular chemical compounds that kill cancer cells and prevent them from dividing. On the other hand, tomatoes, peppers, and citrus fruits contain antioxidants with anti-cancer properties that help patients regain their strength.
- Whole Grains, Legumes, and Nuts
Lentils, peas, beans, and other legumes contain fiber and other anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-fighting chemicals that protect body cells from damage. They can slow down the growth of cancer cells and hence increase the patient’s life expectancy. Another anti-cancer food group is whole grains like oatmeal and barley, which are low glycemic index carbohydrates. They prevent spikes in blood sugar levels, preventing cancer cells from gaining energy and proliferating.
- Olive Oil and Garlic
Researchers have found that olive oil contains an ingredient that kills cancer cells without causing any harm to healthy cells. When cooking meals, substituting butter with olive oil can benefit those fighting mesothelioma. An increase in garlic intake can also prove potent against cancer and help patients recover faster from the deteriorating effects of the disease.
3. Avoiding Certain Habits
Just like intake of specific food groups can improve mesothelioma prognosis, others can have disastrous effects on the recovery process. Therefore, cancer patients must make a concentrated effort to avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. As proven carcinogens, they can worsen cancer symptoms and cause damage to multiple organs at an accelerated speed. Additionally, the liver is responsible for breaking down cancer drugs. Alcohol consumption can cause liver inflammation, causing drugs to accumulate in the blood and become toxic.
Most patients with mesothelioma experience common symptoms like low energy levels, weakness, and weight loss. Light aerobic exercises can combat these symptoms and positively impact the patient’s physical strength. Besides reducing fatigue, it can also lower stress and blood pressure and subsequently improve the prognosis of the disease.
5. Mind-Body Connection
Like most cancers, mesothelioma takes a toll on a patient’s physical and mental health. Nurturing the mind is beneficial to counteract the emotional stress that’s associated with cancer. Activities like meditation, joining support groups, and reading uplifting books can help patients significantly improve their mental health, ultimately leading to a better prognosis.
Mesothelioma prognosis can vary on several factors like cancer’s location, stage, and patient’s overall health. Each case is unique and therefore has a different outcome. But no matter what a patient’s prognosis is, implementing some of these strategies can extend their life expectancy and allow them to live out their time contentedly.