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Helping To Raise Awareness About Veterans And Mesothelioma.

News Resources

HOW MESOTHELIOMA AFFECTS YOUR BODY

Surgeon Looking at X-Ray

Mesothelioma is cancer caused by exposure to asbestos that most often forms in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. As it grows and spreads, different physical and mental effects are felt in the body. Understanding what to expect, as well as receiving the proper resources and information from qualified experts, is a step in the right direction to treating this rare cancer.

Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma wonder exactly how the disease affects their body. You may be curious about what the cancer is doing to you physically and if there’s anything you can do to prepare for potential changes ahead.

There are steps you can take to prepare, such as making arrangements with family and friends for future help with chores and errand-running when physical activity becomes tiring. And there are resources available to help through the entire cancer experience.

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Physical Effects of Mesothelioma

Once inside the body, asbestos has the potential to slowly damage DNA in ways that cause a mesothelial cell to become cancerous. Once a cell becomes cancerous, the normal controls that regulate cell division are disrupted, causing the cell to divide uncontrollably. This process results in a buildup of cells that slowly forms into a tumor.

Mesothelioma is unique in the way it grows. Most tumors form as a singular mass. Mesothelioma tumors more commonly develop as numerous small nodules on the lining of the lungs or abdomen. As the tumors grow, they eventually come together in a sheath-like tumor, which is often compared to a rind that grows around fruit. As the cancer progresses, the tumor grows around vital organs and causes physical effects like pain or difficulty breathing.

Tumors that originate in the pleural lining of the lungs will first affect the lungs, whereas tumors that originate in the peritoneal lining will first affect the digestive system. Physical signs of mesothelioma usually arise in later stages of development. It is rare for stage I or II mesothelioma to cause noticeable symptoms.

Lung Affected by Mesothelioma

Symptoms of Mesothelioma by Type

Once the cancer has reached the final stage of development, when metastasis (distant spreading) occurs, new symptoms might develop. Late-stage mesothelioma patients may experience difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, facial nerve damage, low blood sugar and nerve pain in the arm.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Dry cough
  • Chest pains
  • Fatigue
  • Faint or harsh breathing sounds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reduced lung expansion
  • Pleural effusion
  • Weight loss

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal distension
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling or tenderness
  • Hernias
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling full
  • Fluid buildup

Side Effects of Mesothelioma Treatment

Treatment of mesothelioma can physically affect the body in significant ways depending on the therapies used. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy all cause physical side effects. Most of these mesothelioma treatment side effects are eased with medication, diet or lifestyle choices.

Surgery

  • Pain at incision site
  • Swelling, drainage or infection at incision site
  • Bleeding at incision site
  • Pain in area of surgery
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiac complications

Chemotherapy

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Diarrhea & constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced blood counts

Radiation Therapy

  • Skin changes & irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Bladder irritation
  • Difficulty swallowing

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Mental Effects of Mesothelioma

In addition to the physical effects, a mesothelioma diagnosis can greatly impact a person mentally and emotionally. You may have been told that most people with mesothelioma live for a year following diagnosis. This news can affect your mental health and cause feelings of fear, sadness, anger, confusion, stress and anxiety.

Support

It is normal for people with mesothelioma to experience a range of emotional responses. Building a support system of family, friends and health care professionals will help you through these times. You may consider reaching out to cancer support groups, church and spiritual groups, or online support communities. One-on-one counseling is often available at cancer treatment centers. These counselors have the most experience helping people process the emotions and challenges posed by that cancer.

Isolation

Since mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, you may not know anyone else facing this cancer. This factor can leave many people with mesothelioma feeling alone or like they’re the only person who understands what they’re going through. This feeling is normal and there are things you can do to address these feelings, such as joining a cancer support group and talking with a counselor.

Radiation & Surgery

Cancer treatment can also cause mental and emotional effects, most of which are temporary. Pain medication can temporarily impair cognitive ability and alter mood, especially when stronger doses are used after surgery. Radiation therapy can cause extreme fatigue that consequently diminishes cognitive function. These effects are usually temporary.

Chemo Brain

Chemotherapy can particularly affect cognitive function, which may be temporary or may last for several years after therapy. The effects are referred to as “chemo brain,” and may include:

  • Challenges with multitasking
  • Slow or foggy thought processing
  • Difficulty recalling known information such as names, important dates and common words

If you’re noticing symptoms of chemo brain, be sure to inform your doctor right away. There are cognitive training tools that patients can use to reduce the effects of chemo brain. These tools help people to improve thought processing, increase memory and reduce mental fogginess.

Increasing a Patient’s Life Span

There are steps people with mesothelioma can take to extend life expectancy. Among the first steps is finding a doctor who specializes in your type of mesothelioma. Working with a mesothelioma specialist at a cancer treatment center will get you access to the latest treatments, therapeutic approaches and a multidisciplinary health care team.

In addition to electing the support of a specialized health care team, there are things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. Improving your diet and exercising can boost health before, during and after cancer treatment. Complementary and alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga and counseling also can enhance well-being.

  • Female Doctor Looking at Microscope

    Complementary and Alternative Therapies

    In addition to conventional cancer treatment, many people with mesothelioma integrate complementary and alternative therapies into their treatment plan. Below are some of the most common complementary therapies used by mesothelioma patients. Make sure to discuss any complementary therapy with your oncologist before using it. Certain therapies might diminish the effects of some cancer treatments, so make sure your doctor gives you the OK before you integrate complementary therapies.

    • Mind-body therapies like qigong, tai chi, yoga and meditation are helpful at reducing stress, lessening depression and improving mood.
    • Body-based therapies like chiropractic care, massage and TENS therapy are often effective at treating pain and stress.
    • Complete healing systems like traditional Chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine offer unique therapies like acupuncture to address a range of cancer-related issues.
    • Herbal medicine offers a variety of all-natural remedies to treat mesothelioma symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Group of Peopl Doing Yoga

    Treatments & Doctors

    Thanks to recent advancements in cancer treatment, many people with mesothelioma are qualifying for aggressive therapies more often than in the past. For example, several years ago, few stage III patients qualified for surgery like they do today.

    Additionally, more clinical trials for mesothelioma exist today than a decade ago. These trials give mesothelioma patients the opportunity to try cutting-edge treatments and new combinations of therapies. Some of the patients in these studies are living an average of three or more years.

    Some of the therapies being tested in clinical trials include immunotherapy, genetic therapy, targeted drugs and new combinations of traditional therapies. Each clinical trial is different and has unique requirements to participate. For example, some trials specifically seek out mesothelioma patients who’ve already tried first-line chemotherapy, whereas others are looking for patients who’ve never tried chemotherapy.

    Seeking out a mesothelioma specialist can help you get access to cutting-edge treatments. Doctors who specialize in mesothelioma have a pulse on the latest clinical trials and treatments, and they often work at cancer centers where such trials and treatments are conducted.

  • Old Couple Excercising

    Improving Overall Health

    Making improvements to your overall health may positively impact your prognosis. The most commonly recommended tips for people with mesothelioma include:

    • Improve diet
    • Exercise lightly
    • Pay attention to mental health
    • Self-care will boost well-being

    Many cancer centers employ registered dietitians to help you create meal plans tailored to you and your diagnosis. Ask your doctor if a dietitian is available at your treatment facility. You may also be able to find physical trainers who can teach you simple and effective exercises that will help you maintain muscle mass throughout cancer treatment.

    In addition to addressing the physical, many cancer centers have on-staff mental health counselors to help patients process the emotional effects of the cancer experience. Meeting with a counselor can equip patients with tools that will help them cope more effectively with mesothelioma effects.

  • Female Doctor Looking at Microscope

    Complementary and Alternative Therapies

    In addition to conventional cancer treatment, many people with mesothelioma integrate complementary and alternative therapies into their treatment plan. Below are some of the most common complementary therapies used by mesothelioma patients. Make sure to discuss any complementary therapy with your oncologist before using it. Certain therapies might diminish the effects of some cancer treatments, so make sure your doctor gives you the OK before you integrate complementary therapies.

    • Mind-body therapies like qigong, tai chi, yoga and meditation are helpful at reducing stress, lessening depression and improving mood.
    • Body-based therapies like chiropractic care, massage and TENS therapy are often effective at treating pain and stress.
    • Complete healing systems like traditional Chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine offer unique therapies like acupuncture to address a range of cancer-related issues.
    • Herbal medicine offers a variety of all-natural remedies to treat mesothelioma symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Group of Peopl Doing Yoga

    Treatments & Doctors

    Thanks to recent advancements in cancer treatment, many people with mesothelioma are qualifying for aggressive therapies more often than in the past. For example, several years ago, few stage III patients qualified for surgery like they do today.

    Additionally, more clinical trials for mesothelioma exist today than a decade ago. These trials give mesothelioma patients the opportunity to try cutting-edge treatments and new combinations of therapies. Some of the patients in these studies are living an average of three or more years.

    Some of the therapies being tested in clinical trials include immunotherapy, genetic therapy, targeted drugs and new combinations of traditional therapies. Each clinical trial is different and has unique requirements to participate. For example, some trials specifically seek out mesothelioma patients who’ve already tried first-line chemotherapy, whereas others are looking for patients who’ve never tried chemotherapy.

    Seeking out a mesothelioma specialist can help you get access to cutting-edge treatments. Doctors who specialize in mesothelioma have a pulse on the latest clinical trials and treatments, and they often work at cancer centers where such trials and treatments are conducted.

Need Help Finding Treatment?

For more information follow this link.

www.mesotheliomaprognosis.com/mesothelioma

Thank you to www.asbestos.com and www.mesotheliomaprognosis.com for bringing awareness to the issues faced by our veterans,  serviceman and women.



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