Mesothelioma is a type of malignant cancer that affects the lungs after the inhalation of asbestos fibers. While it most commonly affects the lungs, it is a tumor of the tissue that lines the stomach, heart, and other organs as well. It is rare and incurable, and the life expectancy for most people with this disease is approximately 12 months after a diagnosis.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms only manifest after the tumor has spread, grown, and pressed against the wall of the chest or the other organs. Here are a few common symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry coughing
- Complications in breathing
- Chest or abdomen pain
- Fever/night sweats
- Pleural effusion or the buildup of fluid around the lungs
- Weak muscles
What are the causes?
There are four stages of the development of this disease. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause, and here’s how it affects the body:
- Asbestos exposure leads to the inhalation or swallowing of microscopic airborne asbestos fibers.
- These fibers get stuck in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
- These lodged fibers damage the mesothelial cells, which leads to inflammation.
- Tumors form on the damaged mesothelium over time, resulting in mesothelioma.
Can it be treated?
Mesothelioma cancer is a rare disease, and treatment is not guaranteed. Those diagnosed with this type of cancer go through conventional cancer therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. There are also some clinical trials and alternative therapies, and patients have to approach their oncologist to check whether they may be eligible for any of these unconventional treatments.
What should patients eat and avoid?
Experts say that a common nutritional problem among people with mesothelioma cancer is the lack of adequate protein intake or enough calories, both of which aid recovery, manage the side effects of the treatments, and fight fatigue.
It’s advisable for patients to consult a doctor to see what works best for their recovery, but the following are some beneficial dietary additions that experts suggest:
- Omega-3 fats: These healthy fats, found in fatty fish, prevent harmful weight loss during recovery.
- Fibrous foods: These foods help balance insulin levels, which may help minimize cancer cell growth. Some foods to include are beans, fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and vegetables.
- Spices: These contain anti-inflammatory properties, so one should try to include turmeric, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, or other such spices in their diet.
- Coenzyme Q: Chemo may cause damage to the heart, but consuming coenzyme Q-rich foods like peanuts and chicken helps protect the organ from treatment fatigue and damage.
One must consult their doctor and nutritionist for guidance on following a balanced diet that will help them fight off the fatigue associated with undergoing rigorous treatment for mesothelioma cancer.