When a doctor gives a veteran a prognosis for their mesothelioma diagnosis or other illness, they’re analyzing and predicting the course of the disease. This includes the person’s life expectancy (i.e., how long they have to live), the percentage of chance the condition has to be cured, and the outlook for functional recovery. If a patient wants an opportunity to improve their prognosis, they can undergo certain, recommended lifestyle changes. Some changes that could affect prognosis include improving your diet and exercise habits.
Factors That Affect a Prognosis
A medical prognosis revolves around several essential variables – often making the prognosis more prediction than fact. Some factors affecting a mesothelioma prognosis include:
- Patient’s overall health
- Mesothelioma type and stage
- Cure rates for patients with a similar disease
- Average survival time for patients with a related illness
Making small dietary changes can greatly improve a mesothelioma prognosis. However, it’s important to chat with your doctor first about what they recommend for you because every patient will have different dietary needs.
- Olive and canola for cooking or salad needs
- Vegetables and different kinds of vegetables
- Whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice
- Fluids by ingesting more water, tea, and coffee with little to no sugar added.
- Fruits with greater color variety.
- Fish, poultry, beans, and nuts to increase protein levels
- Cooking oils (besides olive and canola)
- Red meats such as beef, lamb, and pork
- Processed meats like bacon, sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, salami, and other deli meats
- Refined sugars and high fructose corn syrups
- Alcohol and cigarettes
While most of these “consume less” items are unhealthy for the general population, red and processed meats, alcohol, and cigarettes are all known carcinogens (i.e., substances known to cause cancer).
Veterans who were diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA compensation. To find out if you qualify, speak with a patient advocate today.
Herbal supplements are prevalent among cancer patients because of their believed health benefits. Supplements consist of vitamins, herbs, minerals, botanicals, and amino acids. You can usually just eat or drink these supplements. They can take the form of capsules, tablets, pills, powders, and liquids.
Sometimes, when taken correctly, herbal supplements have been known to provide added health benefits. Though patients must never use them as a replacement for primary treatments. Some herbal supplements that could help with a mesothelioma prognosis include, but are not limited to:
What: Immune system defense booster
How Much: One clove/day or 100-1,000 milligrams of extract
What: Anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea
How Much: Fresh ginger root in meals instead of ginger supplements
How Much: Drink up to 3 cups each day
What: Abundant in omega-3 fatty acids (helps reduce the risk of cancer)
How Much: Sprinkle ground flaxseed over meals
What: Reduces or halts tumor growth
How Much: Add some of the seasonings to your meals or take a supplement
What: Provides calcium while ensuring the immune, muscle, and nervous system run fluently
How Much: 15mcg daily
What: Antioxidant that can help the body remove free radicals and fight tumors
How Much: 15mcg daily
Complementary Therapies to Help Improve a Prognosis
Doctors may recommend the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to help improve a cancer prognosis, more specifically, mesothelioma. Still, CAMs do not directly kill tumors and shouldn’t be used in place of recommended primary treatments. However, success has been seen in the combination of a doctor’s advice, primary therapies, and particular CAMs, where patients’ health and ability to cope with signs and symptoms caused by mesothelioma and treatment has improved.
These therapies are physical and involve movement. It’s vital to follow the doctor’s suggestions and not push your limits too far, as doing so could cause injury. Some body-based therapies are:
This form of treatment is the most common. It involves physical techniques that are meant to relieve pain and stiffness in joints or muscles that tend to suffer when undergoing primary cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Chiropractic care has also been known to reduce stress while boosting mobility, flexibility, and strength.
Exercising even after a cancer diagnosis helps the body better fight off cancer. Keeping up with an exercise regimen can help patients who suffer from fatigue and loss of physical performance.
Stimulation of specific locations on the skin by piercing with thin, metal needles. This form of treatment has helped cancer patients with nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, pain linked to cancer, chemotherapy-related neutropenia (the increased likelihood of infection), cancer fatigue, and radiation side-effects.
Also utilizing pressure points, acupressure differs in that the administrator applies physical pressure to those spots as opposed to using needles. Studies show that acupressure can help mesothelioma patients with dyspnoea (a symptom that generally makes the process of breathing more difficult).
Mind and Body-Based Therapy
Therapies for the mind and body are developed to help the patient mentally and physically in their fight against cancer. Patient outlook and receptiveness of the treatment typically determine treatment efficacy.
Also known as a psychotherapeutic technique, hypnosis is conducted by a hypnotherapist. First, the therapist will place the patient in a hyper-focused state, where they will recommend options for reducing distress and improving experiences, which can also mean reducing pain or nausea. Therapist suggestions will differ between patients.
Also considered “integrative” therapy, meditation can help the patient feel more physically relaxed and comfortable. Meditating is most efficient if a patient finds a quiet place, focuses on a subject with steady breathing, and then holds a specific posture or movement. It can help to repeat a word or phrase out loud; some prefer physical movement.
Tai Chi and Qigong
Both ancient forms of martial art, Tai Chi and Qigong encompass both breathing and steady, flowing movement to aid in reestablishing balance to the body’s energy system. This has been known to help calm the mind and improve stability, decrease muscle and joint pain, increase focus, boost flexibility, energy, and clear thinking.
An old practice that involves breathing, exercise, stretching, and meditation, yoga has been known to help mesothelioma patients. Yoga has also aided with strengthening the mind, repairing strength, flexibility, and balance.
Veterans with mesothelioma can take action without affecting their benefits.
Complementary Therapy Risks
All forms of treatment and therapy come with risk – especially complementary therapies. Patients must be wary of certain therapies making false promises. One common falsehood is that certain treatments can cure mesothelioma or other cancers. Some companies also make claims that the procedure is simple and without harmful side-effects, but this isn’t always true. Risks associated with complementary therapies are:
- Stopping or delaying remission and allowing tumors to continue developing. This can happen if complementary treatments are used instead of primary methods.
- Health problems, including death. The patient could be allergic to the supplements, or not respond well to supplements or the combination with primary treatment.
- Increased risk of cancer or other illnesses, especially if a person takes too much. Some companies don’t follow the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations about making false claims or labeling products.
Talk with your doctor about the changes you can make that may help improve your mesothelioma prognosis. They’ll be able to suggest what dietary changes to make and the best physical and mental therapies that could help you further.
There’s a lot to know about mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. If you or a fellow veteran have received a diagnosis for an asbestos-related condition, you may have been exposed during service. Learn more about where asbestos is and the risks that come with it.