Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on a recent study published in the medical journal Current Oncology that evaluated the effects of acupuncture on mesothelioma symptom relief. The study, which included over 30 patients, found statistically significant improvements in pain, nausea, appetites, nervousness, and general well-being.
These five symptoms are the most commonly reported symptoms of mesothelioma, either caused by the disease itself or its treatment (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation). The study participants received 45-minute acupuncture sessions one or two times per week for a minimum of four sessions, and symptom severity was assessed before and after each session.
The mean age of the patients was 62, and nearly 70% of them were receiving traditional cancer treatments at the time of their acupuncture sessions. The ten patients who were not receiving treatments had either already undergone complete surgical resection of the tumor or were in such advanced age that only palliative care was available.
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The average patient received attended seven acupuncture sessions for the study, and clinical improvement was reported in over 60% of patients for pain and over 30% for overall well-being. Notably, a significant number of patients reported improved wellbeing as their acupuncture sessions progressed (at least six sessions), which remained constant even after accounting for narcotic use.
Acupuncture is a minimally invasive procedure involving thin needles (just slightly thicker than human hair), heat and pressure in one or more specific places on the skin known as acupuncture points. It is an ancient healing remedy used in China and other Eastern countries as part of traditional medicine, and has been in practice in the U.S. for about 200 years. It is used to treat a wide, illustrious list of ailments, from cancer and anxiety to fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
In Western terms, physicians believe acupuncture stimulates the nerves, connective tissue and muscles to boost blood flow and activate natural painkillers. It also causes physical reactions in the pituitary glands and parts of the brain. Unlike chemotherapy and radiation, the risks and side effects are extremely low (if you are treated by a certified and competent practitioner). There is a proliferation of clinical trials that show that acupuncture can relieve the nausea and vomiting caused by chemo.
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Though most are, not every mesothelioma patient is an ideal candidate for acupuncture. Patients with pacemakers or bleeding disorders, for example, could be at an increased risk of complications. Specifically, those taking blood-thinners like warfarin or Plavix are already at a dangerously high risk of severe bleeding. Plavix in particular can cause fatal bleed outs because there is no known remedy for its anti-clotting properties (warfarin is counteracted by vitamin K). For more information on Plavix bleeding click here.
Due to the severity and persistence of symptoms caused by cancer and its treatment, patients have long-sought alternative remedies. Among these include mindful meditation, yoga, deep relaxation, massage, and acupuncture. Before now, however, no study has specifically analyzed the effects of acupuncture on mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma is a very specific and debilitating form of cancer, with an average survival rate of less than one year. It is caused almost exclusively by occupational exposure to asbestos, so the intense feelings of negligence and blame can deeply hamper the patient’s mental state and emotional well-being.
At the end of treatment for the 33 studied patients, 20 demonstrated significant improvements in pain, 11 remained stable, and two reported pain deterioration (one due to cancer progression, the other because of frailty). Neither age, sex, nor activity level had an impact on the well-being score. In the discussion of the study, researchers noted that acupuncture therapy in mesothelioma patients was safe, feasible, well tolerated, and yielded significant improvements in five of the nine most common cancer symptoms. It is worth again noting that the number of acupuncture sessions (six or more) had a significant correlation with improvement in clinical well-being.
Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on alternative treatments and therapies for those fighting lung cancer and other debilitating illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and developed a related illness, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation through a lawsuit against the responsible party.