Yoga relaxation techniques may help cancer patients manage mesothelioma symptoms

Individuals who suffer from malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) have few surgical options for the disease, all of which are fairly radical or risky. Many people with the disease will ultimately need simple, palliative care.

In such cases, doctors sometimes recommend relaxation techniques for anxiety, aches, pain and general exhaustion. Yoga-based breathing techniques often suffice, allowing people with MPM to relieve some of their pain during a difficult time in their lives.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the pleura, the thin sac of tissue that encases the lungs. Only about 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year, a figure that is somewhat decreased from the 1990s, when MPM diagnoses were at an all-time high, according to the American Cancer Society.

The organization notes that the disease is more common in men than in women, most likely because of occupational exposure to asbestos, which is one of the prime causes of the condition.

Surgical options for MPM are few. A recent study published in the Annals of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery noted that a last-ditch procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EP) extends the median prognosis to about 20 months.

However, there is no guarantee. This operation must be performed early, before the cancer has metastasized in lymph nodes or other distant sites, the authors noted. Likewise, an EP is a radical surgery, one that removes an entire lung, plus the pleura, pericardium and the diaphragm muscle, according to the Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

So, in terms of stress management and quality of life improvements, what options are available to patients with MPM? Among other alternative and complementary therapies, yoga may help people with MPM relax, reduce aches and breathe more deeply.

After all, MPM is a disease of the lungs and abdominal cavity, and, as such, it can make it difficult for people with the condition to take long, deep, cleansing breaths, particularly when they are overcome with anxiety about their deteriorating physical health.

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