Palliative care is a relatively recent medical movement that works to treat the symptoms of a disease rather than the root of the problem. It is similar to hospice in that it alleviates suffering while also addressing the stress associated with dealing with serious diseases. Additionally, this form of healthcare can help family members and loved ones deal with their stress as well.
Palliative care is becoming especially popular with patients of cancers like mesothelioma. Mesothelioma attacks the various linings of the body, such as the lining of the lungs, and it is very difficult to detect. Thus, by the time someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the tumors have typically spread to the point that it is difficult to treat the cancer itself.
Mesothelioma can come with a variety of symptoms that seem to wear people down so that they cannot fight the cancer. Palliative care tries to address and relieve these symptoms in the easiest, most natural way possible so that patients do not suffer. Many times, doctors who focus in this area will try to avoid medications to treat symptoms. With mesothelioma, there are several different side effects of the cancer that can be treated with palliative care. These include:
- Dry mouth – sucking on vitamin C tablets, chewing sugarless gum, providing humidified air
- Loss of appetite – changing diet plans
- Skin dryness – taking baths with mineral or baby oil, putting baking soda in cool bathwater, changing detergents to something less harsh
- Fatigue – exercising, stress management, changes in nutrition
- Shortness of breath – teaching relaxation techniques or changing body position to increase airflow
- Pain – acupuncture, massage, deep breathing, meditation techniques