In a remarkable testament to the power of both alternative and traditional approaches to cancer treatment, a man with pleural mesothelioma has seen his tumor disappear.
The 73-year-old man underwent a pleurectomy—a surgical procedure to remove the pleura, which is a mesothelial lining of the chest cavity and on the lung—but the tumor relapsed locally. After also undergoing postoperative intrathoracic chemotherapy and systemic chemotherapy, the patient then tried a mushroom extract and a form of acupuncture known as alternative parasympathetic nerve stimulation therapy. Following these treatments, the relapsed tumor decreased significantly over the course of four months, and eventually disappeared altogether.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is usually linked to previous exposure to the building substance asbestos. When dust from the manufacture, processing or installation of asbestos-containing materials is inhaled or ingested, tiny fibers can burrow into the body, embed themselves in the mesothelium, and lead to the development of this aggressive cancer. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, but it can also strike the stomach, heart or testes. Up to 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Most of those patients are older Americans, because the disease has a long latency period and may not manifest itself symptomatically until decades after the asbestos exposure occurred. Studies are ongoing into new diagnosis and treatment methods.
Since there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, and because the disease is often quite advanced within the body by the time it is diagnosed, treatment plans have traditionally focused on palliative effects. Multi-modal therapies are often used, with radiation or chemotherapy being administered either before or after surgery to remove the cancer. Alternative treatments are also popular with patients, who have reported significant easing of symptoms, as well as pain relief, from such holistic approaches as massage, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, TENS therapy and hypnosis. Each case of mesothelioma is different, and all patients are encouraged to fully discuss their desires and concerns regarding treatment with their oncologist, as well as with their families. Together, the entire support network of the mesothelioma patient can decide how best to battle this cancer.