Mesothelioma UK 5th Patient & Carer Day

Saturday, 2nd October 2010 sees the taking place of the 5th Mesothelioma UK Patient & Carer Day. In the past it has been in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle and this year is being held in London at the Novotel Hotel, St Pancras.

The day aims to allow mesothelioma patients, carers and families the opportunity to share their experiences of the condition. There is a chance to raise issues and ask questions and many expert speakers participate to provide up to date and unbiased information and guidance.

This year’s programme begins with an update about the various benefits mesothelioma patients and carers can apply for.

Later on, research and trials will be discussed. There will also be a talk about chemotherapy, concentrating on whether a patient should have chemotherapy or not and how much to undergo. It is surprising to note that currently there are no national guidelines for the treatment of mesothelioma and therefore it is important that patients and their families arm themselves with as much information on the available treatments as possible. This way the patient can make an informed decision as to how they wish to progress with their treatment.

The event then looks at the role of various ways to treat mesothelioma.

Professor Thomas Vogl from Frankfurt, Germany will be speaking about chemoperfusion. This is a treatment where chemotheraputic drugs are slowly injected directly into the tumour through a catheter in the femoral artery through the groin. Studies are still being conducted into the effectiveness of this radical form of treatment.

Dr Maurice Orange from Attwood Clinic will then talk about mistletoe therapy. For over 80 years, mistletoe extracts have been used as a complementary therapy in the treatment of cancer.

As with most medical treatments, mistletoe extracts can have different affects on different people, however, mistletoe has been found to stimulate the immune system, improving and strengthening the body’s natural defences. It can also induce apoptosis in cancer cells, this is where cells self destruct and help to stop or, in some cases, reverse tumour growth. Mistletoe can protect DNA in healthy cells from the harmful effects of cell toxins. This can make the effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy more tolerable as it can reduce the damage to healthy cells during such treatments. Finally, mistletoe can induce an inflammatory reaction, together with a mild fever. This can be a welcome effect for cancer patients as they often feel the cold much easier and keeping warm is important to encourage an active immune system and a well functioning metabolism.

Mistletoe has also been found to have a positive effect on a cancer patient’s quality of life. Patients have reported feeling stronger. They are more able to resist infections and many find their appetite returns allowing them to gain weight and feel better. It has been found that mistletoe can ease pain caused by tumours and help restore natural sleep patterns.

Zsuzsanna Tabi will speak about immunotherapy. Mesothelioma cells deceive the body into thinking that they are normal cells, this means that the body does not try to fight the cells, allowing the cancer to spread. Immunotherapy uses chemicals called biological response modifiers to realign the immune system so that it recognises the mesothelioma cells as being cancerous and can begin to attack them. This treatment is very much in the experimental stage for mesothelioma but it is hoped that it will prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body.

An expert from the USA will be attending to discuss the treatment of mesothelioma in the US and trials that are taking place.

Later in the day, the focus centres on the patients themselves, with a number of mesothelioma sufferers sharing their experiences.

The day promises to be informative and would be valuable to anyone with any questions about mesothelioma. It will provide the opportunity to meet others with the same condition and to share experiences with people who have been through similar circumstances or who are about to embark on the same journey.

Mesothelioma patients, relatives or friends can attend the event free of charge but do need to register. For members of voluntary organisations and health professionals there is a fee of £25 per person and of £150 per person in respect of industry representatives.

For details on how to register contact Mesothelioma UK for further information on 0800 169 2409.