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Mesothelioma Cancer Patients With Fatigue Will Benefit From Exercise

Overwhelming fatigue is one of the most common complaints voiced by cancer patients, including those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. This constant state of exhaustion is due in part to the tumors themselves and in part to the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. But a new study has shown that there are two potent remedies for exhaustion – exercise and psychotherapy – and that these two forms of treatment are far more effective than medication.

Though the study did not specifically address mesothelioma cancer, it did show that the impact of exercise and psychotherapy was universal, and was not influenced by cancer type, form of exercise, or the age or gender of the cancer patient. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. Led by study author Karen Mustian, the scientists analyzed the results of 113 previously conducted studies involving more than 11,500 cancer patients who had experienced severe fatigue. These patients had all been assigned to try either exercise, psychotherapy, a combination of the two, or drugs to combat their symptoms. What they found was that while drugs offered only a 9 percent improvement in fatigue symptoms, patients who used exercise and psychotherapy had a significant improvement of between 26 and 30 percent.

In discussing the results, Mustian said, “We do not know for sure why exercise works, but some research is beginning to suggest it is due to anti-inflammatory effects and also improvements in physical function – cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular. In terms of psychotherapy, the most beneficial form was group therapy that used a cognitive behavioral approach to educate patients, help them to change the way they think about fatigue and managing it, and adopting behaviors to help alleviate it.”

The exercises that were used in the study were largely aerobic activities or other types of physical movement, while the psychological interventions were largely geared towards education and changing behaviors. What is most important about the results, says Kerry Courtney, a researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, is that it is easy for patients and their caregivers to incorporate these therapies without harmful side effects. “What we learned from this new meta-analysis is that exercise and psychological counseling are roughly equal in their benefits for cancer-related fatigue, and both appear superior to current pharmaceutical treatments.”

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you know what a profound impact it can have on their quality of life. For information on how to deal with this tragic disease and its impact on health, finances, and more, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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