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How to Manage Mesothelioma Treatment Side Effects

Mesothelioma occurs when cells in the mesothelium become cancerous. The mesothelium is a thin membrane protecting the body’s vital organs. This cancer typically begins in the chest, heart or abdomen and can spread throughout the body. Mesothelioma is typically discovered in the advanced stages. The prognosis for an individual with mesothelioma is five to ten years. Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of developing mesothelioma.

How is Mesothelioma Treated?

There are several ways of treating mesothelioma; in many cases, more than one option is utilized. The type of treatments available depends on the health of the individual, the location of the cancer, and how far it has progressed. Mesothelioma is treated to alleviate side-effects and in attempts to mitigate further complications such as pneumonitis. Patients should discuss treatment goals with their doctor. Long-term survival with mesothelioma is unlikely particularly for older individuals and those with mesothelioma in advanced stages.

Surgery

Surgery is not always an option for removing mesothelioma. While some of the cancer may be able to be removed in a process called debulking, this is not a cure. Surgical options which remove tissue from the lining of the lungs or abdomen may remove some of the difficulties associated with mesothelioma. A catheter may be inserted into the lungs to release fluid buildup and insert medicine to discourage the fluid from returning. In some cases of pleural mesothelioma, one of the lungs may be removed. This will often remove a great deal of the cancer and allows more radiation to be applied to the area without fear of harming the lung.

Chemotherapy

Using chemicals heated and inserted directly at the site, a process called intraperitoneal chemotherapyallows the cancer to be aggressively targeted with less harm to surrounding healthy cells. Applying this treatment prior to surgery makes the operation simpler. The treatment may also be applied post-surgically (adjuvant therapy) to prevent cancer from reoccurring in that area.

Radiation

Radiation therapy makes use of highly concentrated proton and x-ray beams targeted directly at cancer cells. This treatment may be applied after surgery in the same manner as chemotherapy. Radiation is a viable option for reducing signs and symptoms when surgery is not an option.

What Types of Radiation are Used in Treatments?

There are two types of radiation therapy available for treating mesothelioma.

External Beam Radiation Therapy

Also known as EBRT, is the most common form of radiation therapy for mesothelioma. Being treated with radiation is not dissimilar to getting an x-ray. Powerful radioactive energy beams are targeted at cancer cells in the hopes of killing them and preventing them from spreading. The treatment itself lasts only minutes. Positioning the individual so the correct angles can be achieved is more time consuming and challenging. Individuals typically receive treatment five days a week.

Advances in technology have made this treatment even better than it was in the past. A medical team will thoroughly examine the body and the cancer to decide which angles will work best for targeting the cells. Computer imaging allows doctors to get a much clearer view of the inside of the body so that more healthy cells are avoided. This provides a better experience overall — targeting the cancer more accurately and reducing negative side-effects.

Brachytherapy

The second type of radiation therapy is less-commonly used for treating mesothelioma. This therapy works by placing a contained source of radiation inside the body near the cancer site. These short radiation waves target the cancerous cells directly while avoiding healthy cells. This type of therapy is more commonly used for cancerous tumors of the breast and prostate. These radiation sources can be permanent or temporary.

What are Common Side Effects of Mesothelioma Radiation?

There are several side effects which are common after receiving radiation therapy for mesothelioma. Some are short-term, others may be permanent or last for years. Some of the side effects are dependent upon the location of the radiation.

Fatigue

The fatigue that comes with radiation is a deep feeling of weariness and low energy. Individuals will need a great deal of downtime and should avoid stress as much as possible. Many daily activities will be impossible, and it is important that the individual has someone to help with daily chores and errands. Fortunately, these effects will be drastically reduced or gone completely once radiation treatment has stopped.

Skin Irritation and Darkening

Irritation at the radiation site may occur. As with fatigue, many of these side effects will wane over time. Occasionally some scarring or discoloration may remain permanently. Typical afflictions can include burning sensations, itchiness, dry patches, swelling, and peeling or blistering.

Hair loss at the treatment site may occur, and will often grow back, though maybe not as thick as it was before. Similarly, darkening and thickening of the skin around the treatment site is a common occurrence. This effect is typically permanent.

Chest Radiation

Radiation therapy occurring at the chest might include some additional side effects. Shortness of breath and coughing can lead to shallow breathing which can result in pneumonitis. Throat swelling and irritation may also occur which could lead to a reduced appetite and poor nutrition, weakness and weight loss.

Abdomen Radiation

Radiation therapy aimed at the abdominal cavity can result in a variety of side effects. Cramping, bowel discomfort and urinary incontinence may occur. Nausea and vomiting are common. Thankfully, these symptoms can often be treated with over the counter medications.

Methods for Managing Common Side Effects

Maintaining health, getting adequate rest and reducing stress as much as possible are essential to recovering from radiation treatment. Here are several tips that may provide general relief:

  • Try relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing
  • Check with cancer team before using lotions on radiation site
  • Soothe a sore throat with nutritious smoothies and juices
  • Invest in a bedside fan to reduce feelings of breathlessness
  • Talk to cancer team about over the counter medicines for alleviating side effects
  • Keep in mind the worst effects of radiation are temporary
  • Stay positive
Robert SteinbergHow to Manage Mesothelioma Treatment Side Effects
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Overcoming Anxiety When Living with Mesothelioma

Anxiety is a common psychological condition affecting many people, as many as 40 million adults in the United States alone. The condition is a mental and psychological state of fear and apprehension over what is likely to transpire in the future given a situation.

When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is often fear, disbelief, anger, and apprehension. This is because mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer affecting only a handful of people and is hard to detect in early stages. Many patients often mistake the symptoms for other health conditions such as pneumonia or just shortness of breath while the underlying issue is quite dire. The diagnosis of the disease is the last thing that anyone can expect, therefore. Further, the main causal factor, asbestos exposure, has been banned in the world for years, this means that many people cannot relate how they acquired the disease and what went wrong.

After the reality of your diagnosis sets in, anxiety can become a problem. The disease can be a major source of anxiety and affect even the most emotionally stable people. Despite everything, it is vital to be positive and to seek help that will help with a change of focus that helps in the battle against the disease.

What can I expect emotionally when living with Mesothelioma?

Life changes when you become a mesothelioma patient. The functioning of the body will change, and you will be engaged in another activity of seeking constant and quality medical care that may be time-consuming and intense.

The first expectation is the loss of self-identity. The normal human relationships will take a twist from cordial to utmost respectful and messages of solidarity. The treatment can raise a personal awareness that something is dangerously wrong.

The next emotional expectation is self-pity. One may start wondering why it happened, what went wrong, and what should have been done differently. A feeling of sadness is likely to hit every time the questions pop up.

Another emotional expectation is fear of the feature. The mesothelioma treatments can lead to body changes such as loss of hair, loss of weight, fatigue, tiredness, and a general change of lifestyle. You may wonder how long this will go on and what amount of time is left to accomplish other goals of life.

What are common symptoms of anxiety with Mesothelioma?

Dealing with this rare and aggressive type of cancer often leads to clinical anxiety. Although you may still have some doubts about the accuracy of the biopsy result, the treatments are the factors that make many patients realize that the situation is life-threatening. Below are some of the anxiety symptoms you may experience:

Changes in social behavior. A patient can exhibit symptoms such as; apathetic and sad feelings, crying in isolation, uncontrolled temperament, social isolation, and a loss of the desire for physical activities. Additionally, there might be a general change in tastes and preferences of hobbies and likes about foods, clothing, cars, entertainment, adventure and so on.

The other symptom of anxiety is physiological changes. The signs presented may range from changes in eating habits, fatigue, and changes in sleeping patterns. For instance, a patient can start sleeping during the day and waking up at night to sit on the patio’s rocking chair listening to classical music.

Lastly, a patient may exhibit cognitive symptoms such as worthlessness, indecisiveness, indifference, trouble concentrating and poor memory.

Research at the John Hopkins University Hospital has shown that 25% of cancer patients have these symptoms. Among them, patients with rare cancers, such as mesothelioma, are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety. It is important to point out that feelings of sadness and remorsefulness are normal. The main reason why medical experts and physicians regard them as major concerns is their persistent nature and prolonged periods of affliction.

What methods are useful for managing anxiety?

The anxiety symptoms can be managed just like the other non-cancer related anxiety, but with a different approach. Professional care entails several procedures of anxiety control.

Therapy: Therapy is the most basic management approach to anxiety. It involves exposing the patient to communication that would make him/her accept mesothelioma with less apprehension. Therapy may mean finding closure in group discussions or interpersonal conversations on social media platforms.

Antidepressant medication: Antidepressants are used along with psychotherapy to help patients approach their deepest fears. Some of the medicines that can be prescribed by a physician are serotonin inhibitors, ketamine, and tricyclic antidepressants to name but a few.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation: This option is performed when a patient fails to respond to therapy and medication. It involves activating brain activity by magnetic waves. It is safe, painless, noninvasive, and easy, has high rates of success, and can be done without sedation.

Complementary and alternative treatment: This is a holistic approach to fighting anxiety from an in-home perspective. It involves a change of lifestyle through dieting, exercising, and a general change of mindset. It is an alternative or complementary approach to the other three methods of anxiety management. For instance, a mesothelioma patient can adapt to the keto diet, start yoga exercises, become religious, and go to spas, massage sessions, and acupuncture. These methods treat the body, mind, and soul; completely transforming a person and putting anxiety at bay as there is no time for fear.

Should I join a Mesothelioma support group?

Yes. A mesothelioma support group is critical for emotional and financial support. As a rare disease, mesothelioma patients tend to perceive that they are suffering alone. However, learning from other survivors’ experiences can be a wakeup call that ushers in a new breath of life in regard to the fight against cancer. Some of the benefits of joining a mesothelioma support group are;

  • It is a warm forum for sharing experiences.
  • Support groups can complement therapy sessions as it is easier to get counselors and motivational speakers to help patients through the treatment journey. The sessions reduce anxiety, self-pity, and even moods.
  • Mesothelioma support groups can share resources with patients. This can be a kind gesture given that insurance does not cover some of the related costs.

A mesothelioma support group is critical in giving patients the confidence to move on with their lives, share their experiences and get motivation. This complements the efforts of family, therapists, friends, and doctors in general.

Robert SteinbergOvercoming Anxiety When Living with Mesothelioma
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Beginners Guide to Mesothelioma and Mesothelioma Lawsuits

No one should suffer with or die from cancer; no one’s family members should have to suffer along with their loved ones while terminal illness destroys lives. But what makes some forms of cancer random cases of misfortune while others are foundation for legal pursuits? The answer is that many forms of cancer occur naturally within the body whereas other forms, such as mesothelioma, are a direct result of exposure to a product known to have terminal, cancer-causing effects.

Mesothelioma lawsuits exist today because the single source for the illness has been discovered by medical scientists and restricted by law. Despite the restrictions and known dangers, some corporations secretly and illegally continue to use products known to create terminal illness in employees with long term exposure.

When a person files a personal injury claim for their mesothelioma diagnosis, or a wrongful death claim because of the death caused by mesothelioma, the claim is not about the desire to cash a check. Mesothelioma is not a get-rich-quick-scheme or a ploy to squeeze money from somewhere it’s not deserved. On the contrary, these lawsuits are attempts to regain money spent on medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and, in some unfortunate cases, funeral expenses. Furthermore, mesothelioma lawsuits can draw much-needed attention to businesses who continue to put employees at risk, and hold those businesses accountable legally and financially for their actions.

There should be no new cases of mesothelioma being generated today, only the discovery of some situations wherein the disease has laid dormant for many years. However, because of greed, commerce trumps morals in many situations and innocent people suffer, families get torn apart, and lives are forever changed in the name of the all mighty dollar.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare and often terminal form cancer that infects the mesothelial lining of the abdomen, lungs, or heart. There is only one cause for this specific type of cancer, and most treatments are non-effective.

Pleural effusion due to lung cancer.

Film chest X-ray PA upright : show pleural effusion at right lung due to lung cancer

What causes Mesothelioma?

The cause of mesothelioma is what makes this rare form of cancer a legal matter vs. a standard case of the illness. The only known cause of mesothelioma is long-term exposure to asbestos, a situation that takes place primarily due to exposure in the work place. Therefore, mesothelioma is often the result of a work-related incident and not a naturally occurring cancer.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural fibrous mineral appreciated for qualities of sound absorption, tensile strength, affordability, and fire resistance. Although used sparingly for thousands and thousands of years around the world for a multitude of purposes, asbestos wasn’t commonly used in mass until the 1950s through the 1990s when it was implemented as a popular construction and manufacturing material with highly-sought after qualities.

Asbestos Past and Present | Money and Mesothelioma

Asbestos has been around for thousands of years; it’s not new, and it didn’t always cause cancer. However, when the use of asbestos turned mainstream enough for its fire retardancy and other beneficial properties that asbestos-mining evolved to an industry, the negative effects of asbestos on the human body became evident as more and more cases of fatal illnesses manifested with links to the popular construction material.

By 1909, mesothelioma was a term coined by J.G. Adam to identify a string of related cancers infecting the mesothelial lining of the abdomen, lungs, and heart. At that point, however, the connection had not yet been made between the cancers and asbestos. By the 1930s, suspicions were on the rise, but with no evidence. The asbestos industry was thriving with masses of the mined material being used in an array of building materials and every day products, so the problem remained muted until around the 1970s as more fatal cases began to manifest, and then legally restricted in the 1980s and 1990s. People discovered that breathing in the fibers of the natural minerals led to the formulation of cancer cells.

But here’s the rub; here’s why we currently have litigation surrounding mesothelioma: Asbestos is still in use today. Companies requiring employees to work around asbestos must provide safety measures and gear, but knowing asbestos causes terminal cancer was not sufficient enough to halt its use in manufacturing and construction. Legally, the material is restricted, but not outlawed. Even so, not all companies operate within the law regarding the safety of their employees.

To confuse that issue, the diseases caused by asbestos can lay dormant – monsters in hiding – for ten to fifty years before diagnosis. There’s a group of people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma – some of whom who have had it for years and never knew because no one knew the dangers of asbestos or the dormancy of mesothelioma. Then, there’s another group of victims who have a terminal illness because someone in a suit decided that using asbestos took higher priority than keeping employees alive and well.

When Mesothelioma Strikes

Every year, between 2,000 and 3,000 people receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma in the United States. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. are between the ages of 60 and 80 years old when they receive their diagnosis, and more men are diagnosed than women. Because the disease remains dormant so long and its symptoms take time to manifest, treatment can be difficult or non-effective when the cancer is too advanced.

The Types of Mesothelioma & Prognosis

Pleural mesothelioma which affects the lungs can present symptoms of chest pain, fluid buildup, painful breaths, and a persistent cough.

Peritoneal mesothelioma which affects the abdomen presents with stomach pains, weight loss, poor appetite, and fluid buildup.

Pericardial mesothelioma, affecting the heart, can bring on chest pains, heart murmurs, and fluid buildup.

The unfortunate circumstance is that early detection is nearly impossible with mesothelioma as the disease can lay in hiding for decades and can be asymptomatic or late in presenting symptoms until well after tumors have established. Because early detection is rare, treatment can be non-effective as the cancers are too far advanced. There are some cases, though, that with aggressive treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation have gone into full remission. At one point, though, a diagnosis of mesothelioma came with a life expectancy of 12 to 21 months. On the plus side, however, the survival rate over the last decade has improved.
Connecting the Dots | A New Link Between Carcinoma and Mesothelioma

Skin cancer, or squamous cell carcinoma, is not caused by asbestos like mesothelioma is; however, over the course of the years the disease has been studied by scientists and doctors, there has been a link between people with skin lesions, skin cancer, or moles – adenocarcinoma, small cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma, and other forms of skin cancer that could help trigger a diagnosis of mesothelioma. The advantage to the awareness of the link between the two types of cancers, although unrelated, is that people suffering from carcinoma may be more susceptible to, and therefore easier to diagnose for mesothelioma. Earlier diagnosis, of course, leads to more effective treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Mesothelioma

There are several ways to diagnose mesothelioma including x-rays, cat scans, fluid draining, laparoscopy, or other methods. To treat the disease when diagnosed early enough, doctors rely on chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. However, these treatments have not proven effective against the terminal forms of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

When You Need a Mesothelioma Lawyer

No legal endeavors or financial compensation can undo the damage caused by mesothelioma. No judge’s orders can reverse the illness, ease the symptoms, or comfort those afflicted. However, patients can experience relief from their medical bills and lost wages, family members can receive reimbursement for medical bills and funeral expenses, and companies who knowingly expose innocent people to the terminal effects of asbestos can be made to pay a hefty price for their greed and lack of regard for the safety of others.

The first asbestos-related lawsuit took place in 1966. Earlier, the problems with asbestos weren’t yet discovered, hadn’t yet posed a health risk, and could be considered innocent mistakes. However, once the awareness came to be, when people understood the toxic nature of asbestos and its use was minimized by law, that should have been the end of the problem. Those using the product should have recognized the error and adjusted immediately. Many did. Most did. However, others did not. Some corporations continued the practice of using harmful materials for gain, even knowing they were putting employees at risk. Those are the companies who need to be stopped. Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit isn’t about trying to make a profit from an illness, but about being compensated for personal pain and suffering, reimbursed for what you’ve had to pay for care, and drawing attention to the companies whose actions are proving deadly.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may need mesothelioma legal advice from an attorney. If you are suffering from mesothelioma, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the company for whom you worked that put you at risk by knowingly exposing you to asbestos. Family members of people who have died as a result of mesothelioma have the right to file a wrongful death suit.

No Time to Lose

Mesothelioma laws vary from one state to the next. One of the variances in mesothelioma law between states is regarding the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations means there’s an expiration date on when you can file a claim, a date that is set the moment you receive diagnosis. When you’ve received a positive mesothelioma diagnosis from your doctor, contact a mesothelioma attorney immediately and without delay. Waiting too long could close that window of opportunity, leaving you responsible for your own medical expenses, income, and spares the responsible company the burden of being held accountable for their actions.

The Burden of Proof

Because the consequences are steep for companies found guilty of exposing employees to asbestos, victims must provide thorough and detailed proof of their condition and its cause. Plaintiffs filing claims against defendants for exposure to asbestos must be able to track their illness to the moment of exposure, and be able to establish proof that the people in charge knew about the exposure and failed to take action that could have prevented the illness. Keep detailed notes and records of all correspondence with your doctor and with any co-workers, managers, or company supervisors pertaining to your asbestos exposure and eventual mesothelioma diagnosis.

Conclusion

Mesothelioma isn’t one of those unfortunate and random acts of illness that strikes without provocation. On the contrary, mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused only by long term exposure to asbestos. Although asbestos has been appreciated for its fire retardancy and other beneficial properties for thousands of years, it was used sparingly, in moderation. As evolution and technology unfolded in time, other societies found the benefit in asbestos, and discovery the resources to mine the fibrous mineral for mass production.

Decades passed of people mass-producing asbestos in the work place before connections were made between asbestos and certain types of cancer known as mesothelioma. But in time, doctors and scientists discovered with certainty that asbestos had toxic properties for humans – the minerals’ fibers, when breathed in, created cancerous cells that spread, becoming terminal. OSHA got wind of the dangers and began enforcing regulations and restrictions, but asbestos was never officially outlawed – just restricted.

The money was too good; some companies couldn’t resist the urge to continue use of the product. Some practiced responsible use, educating employees and providing safety equipment. Others, however, adapted shady practices of secret exposure, leading to a surge of mesothelioma cases across the country.

When you choose to obtain legal representation from an asbestos attorney, a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma, you’re not looking for a way to get rich from your misfortune. On the contrary, you’re trying to stop the people who are getting rich by exposing you and others to dangerous materials that cause terminal illness.

Robert SteinbergBeginners Guide to Mesothelioma and Mesothelioma Lawsuits
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