From the blog

Prehab and Rehab for Mesothelioma

Published: March 11, 2022

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer of the mesothelium, which is a membrane that surrounds multiple organs including the lungs and abdomen. The best thing for patients after a mesothelioma diagnosis is treatment in the form of chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, or multiple treatments together. This can be mentally and physically exhausting, so prehab and rehab are recommended for patients. Researchers at the University of Virginia Health studied the effects of prehab and rehab. They are both essential for patients because they build strength, allowing the body to endure treatment (prehab) and recover after treatment (rehab). Utilizing both can help improve survival and quality of life.

Prehab helps the body become prepared for treatment, allowing it to withstand chemotherapy and surgery. Before someone undergoes mesothelioma treatment, the person can be asked to improve their wellness. The basics include physical exercise and diet management. This is typically done right after diagnosis so patients have sufficient time to improve before their treatment begins. If patients are able to strengthen their bodies before treatment, there is a better chance that the surgery and chemotherapy will help them and not hurt them after treatment.

Rehab is the other important part of a mesothelioma treatment regimen. It helps the body recover after someone undergoes treatment. Mesothelioma treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy all weaken the body, so a treatment that helps the body recover is crucial to already weak patients. Chemotherapy kills healthy cells in addition to cancerous cells, surgery removes tissue from the body, and immunotherapy adds foreign substances to the body. All three of these actions do something to the body that weakens it, so strengthening the body is the next step in promoting healing. One action that is recommended is light strength exercises, which helps strengthen muscles and reduces swelling. Exercise can also reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disorders. Performing exercises can help strengthen the body for treatment and can even reduce the chances of cancer recurring. Having strong mental health can also improve patient resiliency when facing harsh mesothelioma treatments.

Whatever treatment someone undergoes for mesothelioma, physical and mental well-being are essential parts of the treatment process. Strengthening the mind and body might not seem important for treating cancer, but it can be all the difference for surviving longer and living a better quality of life. Thanks to modern medicine, people struggling with mesothelioma are living longer and better lives by simply prepping patients before treatment and rehabilitating patients after treatment.

Kelly Casey, “Facing Cancer? Why You Need Cancer Rehab Experts on Your Care Team Now” UVA Health (February 17, 2022). [Link]
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