5 Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments for Veterans

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Alternative mesothelioma treatments can improve physical and mental health when used alongside standard therapies. Meditation, massage, and yoga are just a few alternative treatments available. If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, see how you can access some of these treatments.

What Are Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments?

Alternative mesothelioma treatments are therapies not considered ‘standard’ in modern medicine. While they are not good substitutes for standard mesothelioma treatments they may reduce physical pain, depression, and anxiety.

Alternative mesothelioma treatments include:

  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi and qigong
  • Alternative medicines like dietary supplements

Mesothelioma is typically treated with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. However, many patients have had success with their treatment plans by including alternative mesothelioma therapies.

Veterans — who make up 33% of all mesothelioma cases — can see if an alternative treatment may be helpful as they seek medical care. Learn more about these alternative mesothelioma treatments below.

#1 Yoga

Yoga is an ancient technique that combines physical poses with mental concentration. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), yoga can reduce anxiety and depression, which are both common in patients fighting mesothelioma.

Yoga can also reduce mesothelioma symptoms like:

  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers yoga lessons on its YouTube channel. Veterans can also find yoga classes at some VA medical centers.

In addition, the Veterans Yoga Project is an advocacy organization that offers daily livestreamed classes. It is not affiliated with the VA.

#2 Massage

Through massage therapy, the skin and muscles are relaxed through a series of movements.

A 2013 study conducted by the NIH measured post-massage symptoms in veterans with cancer.

The results showed that massage decreased:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Stress

Veterans with mesothelioma can consult their oncologists (cancer doctors) to find a qualified massage therapist. For best results, make sure the massage therapist is licensed and specializes in cancer care.

#3 Meditation

The VA has cited meditation as a helpful therapy for cancer patients. Meditation uses the breath to explore the mind-body connection and help patients feel calmer.

Among cancer patients, meditation can:

  • Boost mood
  • Ease stress and anxiety
  • Improve sleep

There are many ways to meditate — there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Mindfulness-based meditation is a popular form and is used to bring the mind to the present moment.

#4 Tai Chi and Qigong

Tai chi and qigong are increasingly popular alternative mesothelioma treatments. Both contain elements of traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts, and philosophy. They use slow, gentle movement to increase mental awareness and regulate breathing.

Tai chi and qigong have been found to reduce:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

They can also boost the immune system, which can be especially beneficial to those fighting mesothelioma and other cancers.

Some hospitals that treat mesothelioma offer tai chi and qigong classes. Mesothelioma patients can talk with their oncologists about using these techniques.

#5 Alternative Mesothelioma Medicines

Some patients use alternative medicines like dietary supplements and traditional Chinese medication to ease mesothelioma symptoms and side effects of standard treatments.

Supplements used to treat mesothelioma include:

  • Antioxidants
  • Asparagus root
  • Astragalus
  • Poria
  • Oldenlandia diffusa

Remember that alternative mesothelioma medicines have not been proven to offer the same life-extending benefits as standard treatments, though.

“There’s a lot of wrong information out there. Even for those who are usually well-informed, it can be hard to find reliable information about the safe use and potential risks of dietary supplements.”

— The American Cancer Society (ACS)

The ACS also notes that some alternative medicines and supplements may make chemotherapy and radiation less effective or even cause harm. Mesothelioma patients should talk with their doctors before using any alternative medicines.

New Mesothelioma Treatments vs. Alternative Treatments

New mesothelioma treatments are also being tested in clinical trials with the hopes of finding a cure. Unlike alternative medicines and dietary supplements, new treatments given in clinical trials are supervised by doctors to reduce the risks for patients.

Emerging mesothelioma treatments include:

  • Cryoablation: Extremely cold gas freezes mesothelioma tumors to kill them
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy drugs train the body’s immune system to fight cancer more effectively
  • Mesothelioma tumor treatment fields (TTFields): Low-grade electrical currents disrupt cell division and tumor growth

Some of these therapies are currently being used by VA mesothelioma treatment centers today. For example, doctors at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center can use immunotherapy and cryoablation alongside standard treatments.

How Veterans Can Access Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

Veterans can access standard and alternative mesothelioma treatments from the VA and private health care providers. Veterans with VA Health Care can work with some of the world’s leading mesothelioma doctors within the VA Health Care System.

VA mesothelioma doctors include:

Non-VA mesothelioma doctors are also available for veterans without VA Health Care.

Available treatment options are different for each patient, depending on overall health, stage, and mesothelioma subtype. However, alternative and standard mesothelioma treatment options exist for everyone.

Get a Free Veterans Packet with more information about which treatment options may be right for you or your loved one.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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