Many people enjoy alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, and naturopathy, to name just a few. Some have found great relief for a variety of symptoms through these natural therapies. But, if you adopt alternative medical care as your primary mesothelioma treatment, you could be placing your health at risk.
The temptation to reach for an alternative mesothelioma treatment is understandable. Survival time after a mesothelioma diagnosis can often be as short as one to two years. Conventional mesothelioma treatment does not offer a cure at this point in time, just the hope of a few more months or years. Given this unhappy prognosis, it’s easy to understand why you might want to bypass the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and try an alternative mesothelioma treatment.
Here’s why you shouldn’t.
The Promise of “Miracle Cure” Alternative Cancer Treatments
Once a treatment is proven to work, it stops being “alternative” and becomes accepted treatment for a particular type of cancer. Be wary of treatments that claim to cure untreatable cancers such as mesothelioma. Unless there is scientific evidence to back up these claims, it is probably not an effective mesothelioma treatment.
Recent history offers an example of the harm that the promise of an over-hyped “miracle” drug can do to cancer patients. The most well-known alternative cancer treatment in the 1970s was Laetrile. Laetrile is similar to amygdalin, a compound derived from the pits of fruits like apricots. It contains the poisonous compound cyanide and, when taken over time, can lead to death by cyanide poisoning. The theory behind Laetrile’s action to cure cancer has never been proven (in fact, scientific studies found no evidence of better clinical outcomes for patients who took Laetrile).
This didn’t stop cancer patients from flocking to the drug. Patients demanded Laetrile treatment and traveled to Mexico to receive it because it was banned in the US. Some patients, buoyed by their need to believe in a “miracle cure,” became vocal advocates for the drug.
The Laetrile craze had many victims, including the actor Steve McQueen, who went to Mexico for Laetrile treatment shortly before he died of mesothelioma cancer. It’s hard to know how much longer some of these cancer patients could have survived if they had not given up more effective cancer treatment in favor of Laetrile.
Though Laetrile has fallen out of favor, it still has proponents. And there are still other cancer “miracle cures” circulating online, with no scientific or medical evidence to back them up. These supposed treatments harm cancer patients by giving them false hope and diverting them from medical interventions that could make a real difference in their lives.
No Substitute for Conventional Mesothelioma Treatment
The primary standard of care for mesothelioma treatment is chemotherapy. When you hear your doctor say the word “chemotherapy,” you may feel fearful of the side effects of these strong, cancer-killing drugs.
There is good news about chemotherapy, however. The newest generation of chemotherapy drugs has far fewer side effects than the older ones did. Doctors have learned to adjust dosages so these drugs do their work killing mesothelioma cells without causing as much suffering to mesothelioma patients.
Patients who receive the most effective mesothelioma treatment, including surgery and radiation in addition to chemotherapy, have a better chance of living longer. Newly discovered immunotherapy treatments have helped some mesothelioma patients extend their survival time with their mesothelioma in remission.
Immunotherapy, which uses the body’s natural immune defenses to fight against cancer, is a good example of a mesothelioma treatment that went from being experimental to being mainstream. As evidence mounted about the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs for some patients, the medical establishment accepted them as helpful second-line treatments.
Immunotherapy drugs are very narrowly targeted and don’t work for every mesothelioma patient. Researchers are studying whether, and when, to use them as a first line of defense mesothelioma treatment instead of a last resort.
All of this is not to say that alternative or natural therapies have no place in your mesothelioma treatment plan. They are just no substitute for conventional mesothelioma treatment. Adding massage or acupuncture to your mesothelioma treatment plan can be beneficial. Just don’t use these therapies as a substitute for the standard treatments that have helped so many mesothelioma patients stay around longer to spend time with their families.
Dangers of Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment
When you use alternative mesothelioma treatment as an add-on rather than a substitute for conventional mesothelioma treatment, there are still some caveats. Some herbs can counteract conventional drugs and could render your mesothelioma treatment ineffective.
Check with your doctor before you add anything medicinal to your routine, even if it is entirely natural.
Even if you don’t see alternative mesothelioma treatments as a substitute for traditional treatments, it can be tempting to go the natural route first. You can always try chemotherapy and surgery later, if the natural cure doesn’t work, right? Well, maybe not. The longer you delay mesothelioma treatment, the more your cancer will have progressed.
Treatments are more effective at extending your life expectancy when you start early. One of the main goals of mesothelioma treatment is to prevent or slow the spread of cancer cells to other parts of your body. These new cancers, called metastatic tumors, are much harder to treat than your original tumor. Starting treatment early to prevent the spread of mesothelioma is vitally important to your survival time.
Another danger of some alternative mesothelioma treatment is financial. Unscrupulous hucksters have been known to prey on desperate cancer patients. At the end of it all, you could be left with an empty bank account and depleted health. Make sure to get your mesothelioma treatment from licensed and reputable medical professionals.
The Right Place for Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment in Your Care Plan
Do seek out massage to relieve your stress and aches and pains. Do visit an acupuncturist or chiropractor, if you find those types of therapy healing. Eating a healthy diet low in sugar will help your body stay strong and fight against cancer. Mesothelioma treatment should be “yes and” – anything that supports your general feeling of well-being and your overall health is a good idea.
It’s easy to find sites on the internet touting the cancer-curing powers of everything from diet to exercise, to thinking positive thoughts. If the claims sound too good to be true, they probably are.
The bottom line: it’s fine to try any natural mesothelioma treatment that doesn’t counteract your conventional treatment and that makes you feel better. Just don’t use it as a substitute for proven mesothelioma treatment.