Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment

Quick Summary

Besides traditional therapies, alternative mesothelioma treatments may help veterans and civilians fighting this cancer. Common alternative treatments include physical therapy, acupuncture, and tai chi. Though they aren’t a good substitute for standard medical treatments, alternative therapies can ease cancer symptoms. Learn about top alternative treatments for mesothelioma below.

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What Is Mesothelioma Alternative Treatment?

older person holding up a spoon in one hand and a bottle in the other

Alternative mesothelioma treatments are any therapies used in addition widely accepted treatment options like surgery and chemotherapy.

Some of these alternative mesothelioma treatment options include yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. These treatments can help lessen the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. They can also ease a patient’s stress as they fight cancer.

Civilians and veterans with mesothelioma can learn about alternative treatments that may help them by speaking with their cancer doctors (oncologists). Do not start any alternative mesothelioma treatments without consulting a doctor first as some could actually be harmful if used improperly.

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Types of Alternative Treatments for Mesothelioma

There are many types of alternative treatments for mesothelioma that fall under a few different categories. These include different types of physical therapy, recreational therapy, and mental health treatments.

Below, find out more about the different types of alternative mesothelioma treatments.

Physical Therapy for Mesothelioma

Physical therapy can help relieve many mesothelioma symptoms. Commonly used physical therapy options include exercise therapy, massage, yoga, and more.

Exercise Therapy

Mesothelioma patients who exercise regularly can better tolerate treatments like surgery and chemotherapy — and possibly live longer.

Leading hospitals like the Perlmutter Cancer Center in New York may recommend an exercise program at an outpatient rehab facility. These programs can help patients fight symptoms like fatigue and help them get stronger after undergoing mesothelioma surgery.

Lymphatic Massage Therapy

Lymphatic massage therapy is a specialized technique that focuses on stimulating the lymphatic system to promote healing. This type of massage can help reduce swelling, relieve pain, and improve immune system function.

Lymphatic massage therapy may also have a positive impact on a patient's mental and emotional well-being. Patients may experience anxiety, depression, and stress related to their diagnosis and treatment. Massage therapy can help to alleviate these symptoms and promote relaxation.

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Cranial sacral therapy can be beneficial for patients with mesothelioma by reducing cancer pain, improving physical mobility, and easing stress.

It’s similar to massage therapy as a therapist will massage the head and other parts of the body to promote healing, according to the Craniosacral Therapy Association.

Yoga

older woman doing yoga in a class

Yoga uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques to promote physical, mental, and spiritual health.

For mesothelioma patients, practicing yoga can help improve lung capacity and function, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also improve sleep quality, which is often disrupted due to painful cancer symptoms.

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Chiropractic Therapy

Chiropractic therapy is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those related to the spine.

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Chiropractors use manual manipulation and other non-invasive techniques to improve the function of the joints, muscles, and nervous system.

For mesothelioma patients, chiropractic adjustments can help reduce pain and improve overall physical functioning, including lung capacity, mobility, and range of motion.

Osteopathic Treatment

Osteopathic treatment involves soft tissue manipulation, stretching, and joint mobilization to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

It may also help to improve a mesothelioma patient's quality of life by aiding in relaxation.

Reflexology

Using reflexology, therapists apply pressure to the hands and feet to stimulate the body’s internal organs and systems. This non-invasive therapy can help to reduce stress and boost a mesothelioma patient’s overall well-being.

Tai Chi

Often described as "meditation in motion,” Tai Chi is a form of Chinese martial art that combines breathing exercises and movement. It is practiced by millions of people worldwide as a form of exercise, relaxation, and meditation.

For mesothelioma patients, practicing Tai Chi can help improve balance, breathing, flexibility, respiratory function, and strength in addition to reducing anxiety and stress.

Biofeedback Therapy

patient using biofeedback as part of their treatment plan

Biofeedback therapy is a technique that involves measuring and monitoring specific physiological responses of the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature.

Biofeedback therapy can help mesothelioma patients learn to control these responses through relaxation techniques and mental focus.

Mental Health Care

Certain kinds of mental health treatment can be crucial for mesothelioma patients. Mental health care can reduce the body’s response to stress, relieve patient anxiety, and more.

In addition to psychotherapy (talk therapy) and group counseling, the following alternative mental health treatment options may help people with mesothelioma.

Meditation

Meditation is a mind-body practice that involves training the mind to focus on the present moment and to let go of worries. There are many types of meditation, but most involve sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing.

For people with mesothelioma, meditation can be a beneficial tool for coping with the emotional and physical challenges of the disease.

Patients can participate in guided meditation sessions or practice at home with resources such as videos or apps.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an alternative mesothelioma treatment that helps to reduce symptoms of trauma and anxiety.

This therapy involves guided eye movements and other stimulation while patients recall traumatic experiences. Notable cancer publications like Frontiers in Oncology have reported on the possible benefits of EMDR for patients.

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Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapies involve engaging in enjoyable activities such as art, music, or sports.

These alternative mesothelioma therapies can reduce symptoms like pain, fatigue, and depression, and promote a positive outlook.

Music Therapy

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center notes that music therapy can help reduce depression, pain, and anxiety among patients with mesothelioma and other cancers.

Different forms of music therapy can be used. For example, some patients can benefit just by listening to music, while others can get involved in singing or drumming with simple percussion instruments.

Art Therapy

Group or individual art therapy sessions can be very helpful for patients with a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Through art-making, patients can process and manage their experiences with mesothelioma, reducing symptoms like stress, anxiety, and depression.

Other Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

There are a number of other complementary and alternative mesothelioma treatments that can benefit patients with this cancer.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses essential oils extracted from plants to promote physical and emotional well-being. The essential oils are typically applied to the skin, inhaled, or added to a bath.

For mesothelioma patients, aromatherapy can improve mood and sleep while reducing anxiety, nausea, and other symptoms.

Acupuncture

older man getting acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points of the body to stimulate natural healing processes.

Acupuncture can help mesothelioma patients with nausea, pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia, while also boosting their immune systems.

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Pet Therapy

Pet therapy, involving interaction with therapy animals such as dogs or cats, can reduce symptoms like stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve overall mood.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana can help with mesothelioma symptoms like pain, nausea, and loss of appetite, but its use remains controversial.

Medical marijuana is not recognized as an official treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so patients should consult health care providers before use.

Herbal Supplements for Mesothelioma Treatment

Herbal medicines can sometimes help manage mesothelioma symptoms and improve overall health. They offer a drug-free way to complement conventional medical treatments.

Herbal supplements that may help mesothelioma patients

  • Astragalus: Astragalus is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine that has immune-boosting properties. In 2020, the medical journal Integrative Cancer Therapies noted how a mesothelioma patient achieved long-term survival by taking bangam-tang (an herb-based concentration containing astragalus) and other supplements.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. A 2020 study from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences showed that curcumin may help fight mesothelioma cells.
  • Green tea: Green tea contains compounds called catechins, which have been shown to have anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies. However, the evidence for its effectiveness in human studies is limited.
  • Mistletoe: Mistletoe is a plant that has been used in complementary and alternative medicine to treat cancer. According to a study from Clinical Case Reports International, some pleural mesothelioma patients have lived for 5 years or more when treated with elm mistletoe.

While several herbal supplements have been studied for potential use in mesothelioma treatment, it's important to note that there’s limited scientific evidence to support their overall effectiveness or safety.

Discuss the use of any supplements with a health care provider, as some may negatively affect your mesothelioma treatments or medications.

Do Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments Improve Survival Rates?

There is limited research available on the impact of alternative treatments on mesothelioma survival rates.

Some alternative mesothelioma treatments, such as mindfulness, exercise, and diet changes, may support overall health and well-being, which can potentially improve quality of life and extend survival.

However, alternative mesothelioma treatments should not be considered a substitute for conventional ones, and it is important to discuss all options with a health care provider to determine the best approach for each person.

Find Mesothelioma Alternative Treatment Options

The best way to find alternative mesothelioma treatments — and other therapies that can help you — is to talk to a cancer specialist.

Fortunately, veterans can get care from top mesothelioma doctors for free or at a lower cost through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veterans with VA health care can work with mesothelioma doctors that treat patients from across the country, and access the best treatments for their case.

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help veterans file for VA health care and other benefits. Our VA-accredited attorneys, nursing support staff, and patient advocates are ready to help right now. File for mesothelioma VA benefits and get the treatments you need.

Alternative Treatment for Mesothelioma FAQs

What’s the difference between traditional and alternative treatment for mesothelioma?

Traditional mesothelioma treatments, like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, are designed to kill cancer cells and help patients live longer.

Alternative treatments like acupressure, massage, meditation, and diet changes typically won’t help a patient live longer, but they can ease symptoms.

Are there any new treatments for mesothelioma?

Yes, there is ongoing research into new mesothelioma treatments, and new treatments are being discovered and explored through clinical studies.

However, it's important to discuss any new treatments with a health care professional to determine if they are suitable for an individual's specific case — especially if these treatments are not going to be administered by a licensed doctor.

How much will alternative mesothelioma treatment cost?

The cost of mesothelioma treatment can vary greatly and depend on many factors such as the type of treatment and where it is received.

Additionally, mesothelioma alternative treatments may or may not be covered by insurance.

However, some people may be able to receive financial help for mesothelioma treatment by filing for VA benefits or pursuing private claims. Get a free veterans packet to learn about the financial aid options available.

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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