Preventing Functional Decline in Mesothelioma Patients

Preventing Functional Decline in Mesothelioma Patients

A new review suggests the prevention of functional decline lies in early detection, physical activity, and a healthy diet.

An estimated 2,500 Americans receive a mesothelioma diagnosis every year. Most of them are over 65. This population is typically less active than younger people anyway. It can be even harder to get enough physical activity when they are depleted by cancer and treatment.

Research shows that physical activity does more than make patients stronger. It can also help them fight cancers like malignant mesothelioma. But many patients still do not get enough.

The new report shows how exercise programs should be part of the long-term care of people fighting malignant mesothelioma.

Prevention and Management of Functional Decline

Pleural mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. People with pleural mesothelioma may be short of breath, anxious, and fatigued. They may also feel weak or have digestive problems. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation often make these symptoms even worse.

Jaidyn Muhandiramge from Monash University in Australia says routine functional status assessments can help. Physical activity boosts energy and lowers stress. It improves self-esteem, stimulates appetite, and makes muscles stronger. It may also help with breathing and digestive problems.

Older patients with cancer are more likely to suffer a decline in their functional status. But there are programs that maintain functional status and slow the rate of decline.

Lessening the risk of functional decline is important, given its impact on quality of life and mortality.

The key to the prevention of functional decline involves early detection, physical activity, and a healthy diet. This is important both pre- and post-treatment. But other factors can cause or worsen functional decline. These include cognitive decline, falls, and the use of multiple prescription drugs.

The case for exercise and a healthy diet is overwhelmingly positive. But mesothelioma patients should still talk with their oncologist before beginning any program. Many hospitals now offer fitness classes for cancer patients and survivors.


Muhandiramge, Jaidyn, Suzanne G. Orchard, Erica T. Warner, Gijsberta J. van Londen, and John R. Zalcberg. “Functional Decline in the Cancer Patient: A Review.” Cancers 14, no. 6 (2022): 1368.

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