Santa Barbara, CA – After hearing remarkable stories from fellow cancer sufferers about how they alleviated pain with a supplement, or achieved remission through acupuncture, many mesothelioma patients are eager to try complementary therapies or alternative treatments. After all, they might help and they certainly can’t hurt, right?
Wrong. According to Kathleen Wesa, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, some complementary therapies can do harm, especially if they are pursued in conjunction with established therapies. Wesa, who recently gave a talk on the topic of integrative medicine at the 2009 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, cites a pertinent example. Antioxidants including Vitamin C, which is often touted as a cancer fighter and marketed to patients with various forms of cancer, can actually block the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Despite potentially harmful interactions, however, cancer patients should not avoid all alternative therapies. It’s widely acknowledged that mild to moderate exercise, along with a diet of nutrient-rich, plant-based foods with limited processed foods, can help a cancer patient better respond to treatment as well as to remain strong throughout the usually enervating treatment process. And such mind-body techniques as yoga, tai-chi, meditation and massage can also help relax a patient or alleviate their pain, if the patient is strong and healthy enough to practice them. Each diagnosis of mesothelioma is unique, as is each treatment plan. A patient should always discuss any proposed treatment with his or her care providers and loved ones, in order to weigh all the available options and to rule out any potential dangers or interactions that might result from attempting to self-treat. Together with their oncologist and primary care physician, the mesothelioma patient can find the approach that will work best and take the least toll during this difficult time.