Medical Marijuana and Mesothelioma
Individuals with mesothelioma often turn to alternative and complementary therapies to treat their cancer and ease their symptoms due to its effects on the body and mind. Integrating medical marijuana into cancer treatment plans has allowed many people to live better-quality lives when living with the disease.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a form of cancer occurring in the thin layer of tissue covering most of the internal organs. It’s a highly aggressive type of cancer that is often deadly. But while a cure isn’t possible yet, treatments are available for mesothelioma.
You have a layer of specific cells known as mesothelial cells lining the inside of your abdomen, chest and the space surrounding your heart. Mesothelial cells also cover most of your internal organs’ outer surfaces. This lining the cells form is known as the mesothelium.
Your mesothelium makes a type of lubricating fluid that protects your organs by allowing them to move against one another. For instance, the fluid helps your lungs expand and contract inside your chest when you breathe. Your mesothelium goes by various names in different parts of your body, including:
- Peritoneum: Lines many of your abdomen’s organs and the inside of your abdomen itself.
- Pleura: Coats the chest space holding your lungs as well as your lungs themselves.
- Tunica vaginalis: Pouch membrane covering the testicles.
- Pericardium: Covers your heart, creating the space holding your heart in your chest.
Mesothelial tumors may form in any one of these linings, and they may be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Mesothelioma is the cancerous tumor.
Surgeons can usually remove benign tumors surgically, and patients often don’t require any additional treatment once the tumor has been removed.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Working with asbestos is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. Asbestos is a mineral group with thin, microscopic fibers. Since the fibers are resistant to chemicals, heat, and fire and don’t conduct electricity, workers have been mining and using asbestos in the automotive, construction and other industries widely.
Individuals can inhale or swallow tiny asbestos fibers when they become airborne, like during the manufacturing process. When this happens, it can cause serious health issues. Asbestos exposure in the workplace links to 75 percent of mesothelioma cases.
Types of Mesothelioma
Presently, the only way of confirming a diagnosis of mesothelioma is by determining its cell type. Every cell type has various subtypes too. Some cell types include:
- Sarcomatoid mesothelioma
- Epithelial mesothelioma
- Biphasic mesothelioma
Diagnosing mesothelioma typically starts with the doctor using a biopsy to take a tissue sample for evaluation. Doctors classify mesothelioma based on the mesothelial layer the disease first occurred in. Different types of mesothelioma include the following.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen)
Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in your abdomen lining, often spreading to your abdominal organs like your:
You can experience severe abdominal pain followed by abdominal effusion (fluid buildup) causing discomfort. While there’s a poor outlook for peritoneal mesothelioma, in recent years, it’s improved a little due to new treatments. Prognosis will vary from one person to the next, depending on specific diagnostic factors and the person’s situation.
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs)
You develop pleural mesothelioma in the pleura, which is the lining of your lungs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma and accounts for around 80 percent of new cases.
A highly rare type of mesothelioma, testicular mesothelioma has fewer than 100 diagnosed cases worldwide. Researchers and doctors aren’t very clear on how it develops since there are only a few occurrences of this form of mesothelioma.
Pericardial Mesothelioma (Heart)
Pericardial mesothelioma is another uncommon type of the disease, making up less than one percent of all cases of mesothelioma. It starts in the pericardium, or heart cavity lining. As it progresses, it causes the heart to lose its ability to deliver the body oxygen. Its symptoms are similar to the symptoms you’d experience with a heart attack, including shortness of breath and chest pain.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptoms vary and depend on where your cancer occurs.
Pleural mesothelioma causes symptoms such as:
- Painful coughing
- Chest pain beneath the rib cage
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual tissue lumps under your chest skin
- Shortness of breath
Peritoneal mesothelioma causes symptoms such as:
- Lumps of abdomen tissue
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Unexplained weight loss
Pericardial mesothelioma causes symptoms like chest pains and breathing difficulty, while tunica vaginalis mesothelioma causes a mass or swelling on a testicle.
Physical Effects of Mesothelioma
When pleural mesothelioma spreads throughout your chest, it adds pressure on your chest structures, causing complications like:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Accumulation of chest fluid that makes breathing difficult
- Pressure-related pain on your spinal cord and nerves
Mental Effects of Mesothelioma
Your first emotion when you hear you that have cancer is likely to be shock. This reaction seems to be especially true of individuals receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis since, chances are, carcinogenic asbestos fiber exposure probably occurred between 20 and 50 years ago or more.
Anxiety and fear are common emotions. Many individuals fear the pain and suffering associated with cancer. The recommended treatments from your doctor may cause some anxiety since they often come with seriously harsh side effects, like chemotherapy, for example.
You may become uncertain of your future when you receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma, causing you to have feelings of hopelessness and sadness, leading to depression.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) provides the following mesothelioma statistics:
- Mesothelioma is relatively rare in the U.S., with around 3,000 new diagnosed cases every year.
- The prevalence of mesotheliomas increased in the U.S. between the 1970s and 1990s but has gone slightly down since then.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) provides these statistics about mesothelioma:
- Around 75 to 80 percent of mesothelioma cases start in the pleural mesothelioma, which is the lining surrounding the lungs.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for around 10 to 20 percent of mesotheliomas.
- Epithelioid mesothelioma accounts for around 70 percent.
- Between seven to 15 percent of mesothelioma patients have the sarcomatoid type.
- The mixed type makes up around 10 to 20 percent of all diagnosed patients.
Mesothelioma’s history began in the early 1900s — British workers during this time worked in asbestos factories, where they started to experience a disturbingly high lung disease incidence rate. The first reported asbestosis case occurred in 1906 in a British asbestos worker. Mining and production asbestos-related lung disease issues became so well-known in the 1920s that in 1930, the British government ordered a study. Results from the study found that asbestos exposure did cause the occupational disease asbestosis.
Today, it’s well-known that the main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
Current Treatments Available for Mesothelioma and Their Side Effects
A mesothelioma treatment plan will depend on certain factors, like the stage of cancer, the cell type and the main site affected. Options of treatment will also depend on if your cancer has spread to your diaphragm, chest wall or lymph nodes or remains localized to your chest area. Your doctor will consider your overall health and age as well.
Physicians employ three standard treatments for mesothelioma: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
- Chemotherapy: Chemo medications attack fast-growing cells like cancer cells. This treatment option is often used in combination with surgery, where the chemo will kill any mesothelioma cells that the surgeon couldn’t remove physically.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses targeted radiation to shrink mesothelioma tumors and make them easier for the surgeon to remove during surgery. The doctor may deliver the radiation externally or internally, depending on the location of the tumor.
- Surgery: If you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis in its early stage, your surgeon may be able to remove all of the tumors during surgery. Also depending on the location of your tumor, the surgeon may have to remove one or more lymph nodes, part or all of your lung, another organ or your mesothelial lining.
In the majority of cases, the doctor will take a multimodal approach where they combine the three of these treatments. Studies show that a multimodal treatment approach is more effective than using an individual treatment by itself.
Recent Developments in Mesothelioma
The latest treatment breakthroughs are helping patients live a better quality of life and increasing survival rates. Patients in the U.S. seeking treatment have world-class cancer centers available to them. Some of these centers even offer programs specific to studying and treating mesothelioma. Researchers are conducting clinical trials to help create treatment plans that may result in a higher long-term survival rate.
Surgery, chemo, and radiation continue to be the standard and best mesothelioma treatments. Researchers continue to look for new ways of performing these treatments and improving their efficacy. Because of this work:
- Surgeries are more accurate.
- Radiation and chemotherapy are more effective.
- Therapies are more exact.
How/Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Mesothelioma
Many satisfied users have recommended medical cannabis and claim that it has helped them deal with their cancer pain — including mesothelioma. But according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), no studies yet indicate CBD oil can stop or control cancer cell growth, even though people are making these claims.
Research studies are showing, however, that CBD oil is effective in the management of anxiety, pain and nausea — all symptoms both cancer treatments and cancer itself cause. Some individuals with cancer use the oil as a complementary treatment, using it along with the standard treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Other people use medical marijuana by itself.
Although there are limited studies on cannabis for mesothelioma, you can’t ignore the anecdotal evidence of success with the herb, particularly cannabis oil. One success case, for instance, shows the therapeutic potential of medical marijuana for mesothelioma — the patient survived his mesothelioma because of cannabis oil even after being told he had only three months to live.
Contrary to what the FDA says, there is some evidence showing that medical weed does much more than treat symptoms. Small laboratory studies in animals show that the herb’s components can kill cancer cells. There’s huge potential in using medical cannabis for mesothelioma and other cancer types, but obtaining the permission to study and research it is difficult.
What Side Effects/Symptoms of Mesothelioma Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Mesothelioma symptoms include things like:
Medical pot treats all these symptoms.
Among the most proven effective uses of medical marijuana is relieving nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The side effects of chemo can be so severe that they keep individuals from continuing their treatment. However, marijuana-related medicines have helped individuals obtain substantial relief from their symptoms, resulting in them continuing with the possible life-saving treatment. Dronabinol and Nabilone are some of these marijuana-related medicines and not only reduce nausea and vomiting but also help restore patients’ appetite and help them maintain or gain weight.
For many cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma, pain is a huge and debilitating symptom. A simple spray in the mouth of cannabinoids has helped patients experience more relief than they did with narcotics.
Living with mesothelioma also causes some patients emotional distress like:
Research shows cannabinoids help reverse these symptoms. Cannabidiol (CBD), in particular, has shown anti-anxiety effects in animal studies. In a study with humans, inhaling marijuana lowered cancer patients’ anxiety and improved their mood and general feelings of well-being.
Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Symptoms of Mesothelioma
These cannabis and mesothelioma strains have helped with many cancer patients’ symptoms.
Pain relief is the most common objective of using medical weed. Individuals with cancer often face debilitating pain. Some good pain-relieving strains include:
- Harlequin (sativa)
- Blackberry Kush (indica)
- ACDC (hybrid)
Medical marijuana helps eliminate nausea, keeping individuals from vomiting. Try nausea-relieving strains like:
- Blueberry Diesel (hybrid)
- Super Lemon Haze (sativa)
- Northern lights (indica)
Strains that help with depression while boosting the mood and energy and improving a patient’s outlook are:
- Chernobyl (hybrid)
- Super Silver Haze (sativa)
When physicians don’t treat cancer, it can lead to wasting illness or cachexia. If you want to improve your appetite, you should know that these marijuana and mesothelioma strains can work:
- Skywalker OG (hybrid)
- Granddaddy Purple (indica)
Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment to Use to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma patients tend to experience breathing difficulties and have weak lungs. In this situation, a preferable way of consuming your medical cannabis would be through edibles to avoid aggravating your lung tissues. A lot of individuals say edible cannabis psychoactive effects are milder and provide a stronger body relief. The effects are also longer-lasting.
You can place drops of CBD oil from tinctures under your tongue too. They absorb quickly and are less sedating than edibles. Other people take capsules containing a mixture of cannabis and a certain oil.
Another option is applying your marijuana for mesothelioma treatment on your skin or taking it in suppository form.
Finally, some patients wear a transdermal patch or juice their raw cannabis. If you must inhale medical cannabis, use a vaporizer, which isn’t as aggravating on your lungs as smoking.
Side Effects of Marijuana for Mesothelioma
When people take marijuana at the appropriate dosage, they rarely experience negative side effects. However, if you misuse the herb, you could experience some temporary side effects, such as:
- Altered or heightened sensory perception
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Heart palpitations
- Slowed motor abilities and reaction time
- Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
- Dry or red eyes
- Short-term memory recall difficulties
If you smoke marijuana through joints, you have an increased risk of respiratory problems, which could be especially problematic if you have COPD, asthma or other lung issues. Fortunately, you have alternative consumptions methods in the form of vaping, edibles, tinctures and more.
Let Marijuana Doctors Help You Find Mesothelioma Symptom Relief Through Cannabis
If you’re seeking mesothelioma symptom relief and are interested in learning more about or trying cannabis for mesothelioma, look no further than MarijuanaDoctors.com. Schedule an appointment with a qualified, local cannabis doctor through Marijuana Doctors to receive your recommendation for cannabis treatment. Once you receive your medical marijuana recommendation, you can browse through our extensive list of cannabis dispensaries to find one near you.