Long Time Mesothelioma Survivors -What Do They Have in Common?

Paul Kraus is one of the long-term survivors of malignant mesothelioma, there are many others and one thing they all have in common to all of them is the fact that they all focused most of their treatment on steps to improve or enhance their immune system. Some used alternative or complimentary therapies (with guidance from licensed clinicians) while others participated in clinical trials of immune therapy.

So does the immune system play a significant role in the control malignant mesothelioma? The experience of Paul Kraus and other long-term malignant mesothelioma survivors gives a lot of credit to the fact that the immune system is indeed very important in the management of malignant mesothelioma.

In quite a number of people with pleural mesothelioma that survived the cancer for a long time, their medical histories have shown that their immune system may have played a major role in their extremely long survival.

In 1986, an article appeared in a medical journal that discussed this very issue of malignant mesothelioma and immunity.(1) This research focused on the immune responses of 118 healthy people compared to 20 patients with malignant mesothelioma and 375 long-term asbestos workers who were cancer-free.

The researchers wanted to know if there were any measurable differences in the immune responses of the mesothelioma patients. Their findings demonstrated a relationship between the immune system and malignant mesothelioma. For example:

• The number of total T (T11+) and T-helper (T4+) cells were normal in asbestos workers with cancer, but were significantly reduced in patients with mesothelioma. T cells orchestrate, regulate and coordinate the overall immune response.

• Most patients with mesothelioma had a profound deficiency in Natural Killer cell (NK) activity which is suggestive of the role the immune system plays in the control of malignant mesothelioma. NK cells are a type of lethal lymphocyte that target tumor cells and protect against a wide variety of infectious microbes.

In the discussion section of the report, the researchers stated:
“These findings led us to speculate that biological phenomena generally categorized as chronic immunosuppression associated with the presence of asbestos fibers in the exposed workers may have caused the eventual breakdown of the host’s surveillance system and the onset of neoplasm [malignant mesothelioma].”

In other words, the researchers are suggesting that malignant mesothelioma may result from immune suppression. If this is true it would provide the biological basis for the role that the immune system and immune boosting approaches may play in the management of malignant mesothelioma.

Another example of a long time survivor of mesothelioma is James O’Connor.In October 2001, sixty-one year old James Rhio O'Connor ("Rhio") was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma caused by his exposure to asbestos when he was younger. His was given less than a year to live.

His tumor was not operable because the tumor was too close to his spinal cord chemo was also not an option because at the stage of his tumor chemo would not have been of any major help to him, it could not give any significant elongation to his life span. He was basically told to prepare for imminent death in a polite manner.

To soften this message, the doctor also recommended that Rhio take his wife on a cruise and then start hospice care upon his return. Rhio rejected the idea. He was determined to survive this cancer. Working with professional clinicians, he formulated a regimen of over 100 supplements a day, changed his diet, practiced mind-body medicine, most of these treatments were aimed at boosting the immune system, and he relied on his own discipline to see him through the difficult times ahead.

Rhio survived for 7 ½ more years through his determination, knowledge, inexorable spirit, belief in something greater than himself, and the ability to make tough choices -qualities that spell success in any endeavor. Rhio passed away on July 11, 2009. He was 69 years old.
Rhio was often asked how he was able to manage his mesothelioma or "Mr. Meso" as he called it.

To answer these questions and help and inspire others, Rhio wrote a book called "They Said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor's Story." In this book Rhio discusses what he did to live his life with "Mr. Meso" and much of the science behind his decisions. In his book he cites nearly one hundred medical articles that support the concept of using nutrition to help manage a chronic disease like cancer. Rhio's inspirational life and book reminds us that there may be other ways to manage cancer and extend life beyond the conventional methods of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Bello Kamorudeen. http://www.mesotheliomacorner.blopgspot.com


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