Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure, has few effective treatment methods and leaves patients with a short life expectancy. Many patients with mesothelioma or lung cancer are treated with chemotherapy, which can cause numerous unpleasant side effects like fatigue, insomnia, and depression. These side effects may not go away when treatment has stopped. However, there is hope for patients, as researchers may have found a way to combat these symptoms using light therapy.
A research team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York is conducting a clinical trial of mesothelioma patients suffering from fatigue and depression. The patients were divided into two groups: one was exposed to a bright white light, the other to a dim red light. While the red light exposure group saw no change in their condition, the white light group saw a significant improvement in their depression.
Light Therapy Treats Emotional Symptoms of Cancer
Researchers have not pinpointed exactly how the white light relieves symptoms, but they believe it may have to do with correcting patients’ circadian rhythms, which affect sleep patterns. White light has proven effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression caused by lack of sunlight. This could be relevant as cancer patients are often deprived of light since their condition keeps them indoors.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately one third of all cancer survivors experience depression or other emotional distress. Researchers are hopeful that light therapy will significantly improve the quality of life for patients who must take highly toxic drugs to combat their cancer. Many doctors believe that a positive outlook can have a profound effect on a patient’s condition, so treating the emotional symptoms of the disease may prove just as important as treating the physical symptoms.
Like most treatments, light therapy may not be effective for every patient, but researchers are moving forward with testing to try to help as many as possible. Mount Sinai will be partnering with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on a five-year, $3.4 million study treating cancer patients suffering from depression, fatigue, and sleep problems with light therapy. Researchers are hopeful that patients will experience relief of these symptoms without the need for additional medication or complex cognitive behavior therapy.
Philadelphia Asbestos Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Mesothelioma Victims
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, call Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers can help you get the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help asbestos exposure victims throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online for a confidential review of your case.