From the blog

Decrease in Survival Rate Among Those Who Receive Non-traditional Cancer Treatment

Published: August 2, 2018

Complementary medicine and alternative medicine may sound one in the same, but are vastly different in how each is used, and varying results often make people wary of its true effectiveness. Alternative medicine is atypical, and not used with any sort of mainstream treatment. Complementary medicine, sometimes referred to as integrative medicine, is unconventional medicine that is used in addition to traditional treatments in hopes to enhance the effect of the traditional treatments and increase overall survival.  The philosophy behind this is to not just treat the disease, but the person as a whole.

While positive thinking and a clear mind can benefit those suffering from mesothelioma, a recent cohort study published in JAMA Oncology found that using non mainstream medicine in addition to traditional mesothelioma treatments may in fact do more harm than good and decrease over all survival.

The types of complementary medicine are vast and diverse, ranging from herbal concoctions, foreign medicine and therapy, homeopathy, and even diet plans specifically customizable to the patient. This particular study investigated data from the National Cancer Database from 1,500 cancer centers around the United States. With a total of 1,290 investigated, 258 of those used complimentary medicine from 2004 to 2013. Results showed that complementary medicine was associated with a lower five-year survival rate and the refusal rate for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery was higher.

For those suffering from mesothelioma, the prognosis is typically grim, with the average lifespan after initial diagnosis being around one year. Feelings of hopeless and despair drive patients to seek alternative treatment, hoping for a miracle. This sense of empowerment and the feeling of “taking back control” are apparent when patients begin unconventional treatments. They feel as if their unique way of fighting the cancer will be more effective. Scientists and researchers theorize that the reason behind the lower survival rate is not because the complementary medicine is ineffective, but it is because patients don’t feel the need to continue with the traditional, proven treatment.

There is no cure for mesothelioma, but with the advancement and positive results from immunotherapy treatment and the ongoing clinical trials held around the world, patients suffering from malignant mesothelioma do have options in how they want to handle their treatment in hopes to achieve maximum results.

More sources for Mesothelioma Clinical Trials



Skyler B. Johnson, Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Conventional Cancer Therapy, and Survival Among Patients With Curable Cancers,”  JAMA Oncology (July 19, 2018). [Link]


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