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Mindfulness May Help Mesothelioma Patients Cope

There is new evidence that lung cancer patients who receive training in mindfulness can dramatically lower their feelings of stress and anxiety.

Lung-related cancers like pleural mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer have been shown to produce some of the highest levels of anxiety of any cancer.

Although there are differences between the asbestos cancer malignant mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer, both malignancies tend to progress quickly and are often fatal.  

Psychological DIstress Common in Pleural Mesothelioma, Too

In a new multi-center study published in the December issue of Psycho-Oncology, Dutch researchers invited a group of lung cancer patients and their partners to participate in an 8-week group-based intervention.

A total of 64 study subjects received “care as usual”, including anticancer treatment, medical consultations and supportive care.

But 31 of the patients and 21 partners also received 2 months of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), including mindfulness practice and teachings on stress. The primary outcome researchers were interested in was psychological distress, something that is also common in people with malignant pleural mesothelioma and their partners.

But the scientists were also interested in the impact of MBSR on:

  • Quality of life
  • Caregiver burden
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Mindfulness skills
  • Self-compassion
  • Rumination
  • And posttraumatic stress symptoms

Outcomes were assessed before families started the program, right after they completed it, and three months later and were then compared to the group that received no MBSR.

Mindfulness and Mesothelioma Stress

The study produced some good news and some bad news for people undergoing lung cancer or mesothelioma treatment and their families. First, the good news:

“Our findings suggest that psychological distress in lung cancer patients can be effectively treated with MBSR,” writes lead author Melanie Schellekens, a psychiatric researcher at Radboud University Medical Centre.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the patients’ partners. The MBSR training did not appear to have any measurable effect on them and the researchers suggest that the reason may be because caregivers tend to be “more focused on patients’ well-being rather than their own.”

Are you a patient with mesothelioma or a family member of someone facing a mesothelioma diagnosis? Surviving Mesothelioma is here to help with support and information. You can reach us at 1-888-378-1331.


Schellekens, MPJ, et al, “Mindfulness-based stress reduction added to care as usual for lung cancer patients and/or their partners: A multicentre randomized controlled trial”, December 2017, Psycho-Oncology, pp 2118-2126

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