Fighting pain is the daily challenge of every cancer patient. Unlike in other diseases or injuries, cancer pain is chronic. In other words, it is continuous. Like the disease itself, cancer pain lasts until the last breath of the patient. For someone who suffers from cancer, life can be a miserable hell. Between 60 90 of mesothelioma patients experience chronic pain, especially in the later stages of the disease. For a person diagnosed with mesothelioma, every moment of every day becomes precious. Yet, chronic pain can ruin the quality of life of the person, devastating these precious last moments. The following quality of life issues arise because of pain:
* Sleep disturbances
* Impaired ability to work
* Decreased appetite
These issues cause considerable strain on the family life as family and friends become exhausted. Vacations and other simple pleasures become impossible. Hence, because of pain, life becomes depressive. Pain diminishes the ability of the patient to fight cancer. Loss of appetite because of depression and pain results in less nutrition and energy. Thus, feelings of fatigue are exacerbated leading to further depression. As this cycle repeats itself, the person becomes more and more vulnerable and eventually succumbs.
Sources of pain in mesothelioma
Pain can have several sources in mesothelioma. In the case of pleural mesothelioma, for example, pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid in the mesothelial layer of the lungs) results in pressure on adjacent nerves and organs. Since this pressure is constant, so is the pain stimulus. In peritoneal mesothelioma, the very presence of the cancerous mass causes abdominal and pelvic discomfort. In later stages, bowel obstruction is a significant source of pain. As the cancer progresses, soft tissue and nerves in the path of progress of the cancer are destroyed. Pain then becomes more localized and chronic.
Solutions to cope with mesothelioma pain
The first solution is of course pain fighting drugs. In the initial stages of the disease, over the counter drugs like aspirin may be sufficient to cope with the pain. In the end stages, stronger drugs are prescribed. A drug therapy is often proposed by doctors to counter pain at these stages. Opoids are the strongest medicines to treat pain (ex. Codeine, morphine...etc.). Besides oral and intravenous administrations of the drugs, which are often ineffective in cases of extreme pain, doctors now have the option of epidural implants. A thin catheter is surgically inserted within the spinal canal. This implant releases small amounts of the drug at precise intervals. The drug binds itself directly to receptors of the central nervous system, blocking pain signals.
Emotional support of the immediate family is crucial to fight pain. Mental health of the patient minimizes fear, anxiety and depression. It readies the patient to face pain and is perhaps the first step towards fighting the disease.
Massage therapy is another way to diminish pain. Massage eases muscle pain through improved blood circulation and decreasing of tension. Massage therapy can be applied any all stages of the disease without any side effect.
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