Friday, July 20, 2012

Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Patients

I was asked to place a guest post on this topic. I am in favour of helping people deal with the realities of death and dying.
Mesothelioma treatments can fall into two groups: potentially curative therapies, which aim to kill the cancer cells, or palliative therapies, which aim to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Mesothelioma patients can receive both palliative and curative therapies at the same time. The
Alternative Therapies
palliative care improves their overall quality of life while the curative care works to improve their
survival rate. If patients are not candidates for curative therapies because of old age or advanced
cancer, they may rely solely on palliative care to bring their symptoms down to a manageable level.

Palliative mesothelioma care helps control pain, reduce coughing and promote easier breathing. Seniors can obtain these palliative benefits through several different therapies.

Traditional treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy can be part of a palliative care regimen, along with additional options such as oxygen therapy and respiratory therapy. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy may also have a palliative effect.

Common Palliative Care Options

Although surgery may seem like a big step, several surgical procedures are primarily palliative in
Complimentary Therapies: chair massage
nature and some are hardly invasive. They can reduce coughing, chest or abdominal pain and difficulty breathing. Palliative operations include:

  • Pleurodesis (surgical draining of fluid around the lungs)
  • Paracentesis (surgical draining of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Cytoreductive surgery

Debulking surgeries have a high risk of side effects – especially in elderly patients – so surgeons rarely perform them with a solely palliative intent. However, some patients do benefit from the reduction in pressure on their lungs.

Radiation therapy can also help shrink mesothelioma tumors and reduce the number of side effects that patients experience. Palliative radiation can provide temporary pain relief and does not require as high of a dose as curative radiation therapy.

Less aggressive treatments can also palliate symptoms. Many seniors explore these treatments because they do not want to put themselves at risk for the side effects associated with more invasive surgery or radiation therapy. Oxygen therapy administers highly concentrated oxygen to patients who are struggling to breathe, while respiratory therapy helps unblock air passageways and encourage smoother breathing.

Patients may also turn to medications to palliate their pain. If they wish to avoid pharmaceuticals, they may consider acupuncture, therapeutic massage, Reiki or other natural forms of pain palliation instead.

Author bio: 
Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center.
One of her focuses is living with cancer.

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