11 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal cancer that develops due to constant exposure to asbestos at the worksite or through secondary sources. Getting this diagnosis can be the worst time of your life, leaving you feeling numb, overwhelmed, and fearful of what lies ahead. But once this reality sets in, various questions fill your mind, demanding immediate answers.

While many sources provide guidance on mesothelioma and its treatment options, information overload can overwhelm your already stressed and tired mind without a prior discussion with a doctor. Therefore, the first step you should take after getting your mesothelioma diagnosis is to meet your doctor for more information.

How did I get mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma develops due to constant exposure to asbestos, a fatal mineral used in construction, shipyards, chemical plants, etc., in the past. Mesothelioma can also develop through secondary exposure from a family member’s work clothes, where asbestos fibers were inadvertently brought home.

What type of mesothelioma do I have?

The type of mesothelioma refers to the location of the cancer from where it originated. You can have the following types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural mesothelioma (occurring in the lining of the lungs (pleura)
  • Pericardial mesothelioma (develops in the lining surrounding the heart (pericardium).
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma (occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum)
  • What resources can I refer to get more information about mesothelioma?

Once you have a basic understanding of mesothelioma, you should seek additional information. Many organizations and support groups offer assistance to mesothelioma patients and their families. These resources provide emotional support and information and help navigate the healthcare system.

Your doctor may recommend reading online research articles and consult credible online resources, such as www.mesotheliomahope.com. This website provides extensive information about mesothelioma diagnosis, its types, and legal help available to the victims.

Why wasn’t I able to catch mesothelioma earlier?

The latency period is the time between a person’s initial exposure to asbestos and the diagnosis. Due to the long latency period of mesothelioma, a victim may not receive a diagnosis until 10 to 50 years after exposure. In most cases, symptoms only appear in the later stages of cancer, when it is less treatable and the disease has already spread to other body parts.

At what stage is my mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma, like other types of cancer, has different stages—stage one (early tumor growth) to stage four (tumor metastasis). After screenings and tests, your doctor can inform you about your mesothelioma stage and discuss available treatment options.

What is my Prognosis?

Prognosis refers to the possible course of disease development, the possibility of recovery, and the ultimate survival. Your prognosis depends on the cancer stage at diagnosis and how well your body responds to treatment.

Patients are often afraid to ask about their prognosis. They would rather not know this detail about their illness, but knowing your prognosis is still crucial. It helps you understand your illness and participate in your treatment plan.

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A mesothelioma patient’s prognosis is one year and sometimes even less. However, the advancements in medical science and the availability of innovative treatment options have improved survival rates in some cases.

While asking your prognosis, you must understand that every patient is different, and their journey of cancer development is often unpredictable. While doctors can give you a rough idea based on the progression of your disease, it’s challenging to provide an exact timeframe.

Should I seek a second opinion?

Various diagnostic tests and screenings are available for mesothelioma victims, but not every doctor has access to all the facilities. Therefore, your doctor may recommend you seek a second opinion from a specialist experienced in treating mesothelioma.

Getting a second opinion helps you confirm your diagnosis, explore all available options, and make informed decisions about your treatment plan.

What are my treatment options for mesothelioma?

Since mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, its treatment is more challenging. Generally, mesothelioma treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies.

The treatment depends on the disease’s stage, overall health, and other factors. Because each case is unique, a team of oncologists often collaborates to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient. Usually, they prescribe a combination of treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

In the early stages of the disease, there are typically more treatment options available. However, as the disease progresses, treatment options may become more limited, and palliative care may become the primary focus to improve symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

Should I seek legal compensation?

If you think your asbestos exposure resulted from negligence or misconduct by a company or employer, you can receive help from the law. After your diagnosis, you can initiate a lawsuit to seek legal compensation from those whose heinous crimes driven by capital gains resulted in your injury.

The compensation received through a lawsuit is enough to pay for most of your treatment expenses and to assist you in other financial obligations. Mesothelioma settlement averages between $1 million and $1.4 million, although some victims have received much higher payments.

looking at scans
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As per Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average compensation through mesothelioma court trial ranges between $5 Million and $11.4 Million.

So, you should not delay consulting an attorney experienced in asbestos litigation to explore your options after confirming your cancer.

How will the treatment affect me?

While treatments aim to alleviate the discomforts associated with the disease, each one may have its own side effects. For instance:

  • Surgery may reduce pressure on your chest by removing part of the tumor, but you may feel soreness at the site of the incision
  • Chemotherapy, which destroys the tumor, can make you feel nauseated.

Though doctors can provide you with medication to cure these symptoms, you should still be ready for these side effects of the cancer treatment.

What can I do to improve my quality of life?

A mesothelioma patient’s life can be very difficult, with physical discomfort, pain, and stress associated with their illness. Although the survival rate in mesothelioma patients is negligible, they can still take steps to improve their quality of life.

Some of the ways doctors may recommend patients to improve their quality of life are the following:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating nutritious food
  • Engaging in doctor-recommended physical activity
  • Staying informed about their treatment
  • Seeking emotional support from their loved ones
  • Pursuing compensation from responsible parties to afford better treatment options

Conclusion

Mesothelioma does not show symptoms until its later stages. But after appearance, it progresses really fast. Staying uninformed about its development, treatment plans, prognosis, and so on can make it even more challenging to cope with the effects of this disease.

One crucial approach to staying informed about mesothelioma is engaging with your oncologist to ask important questions, as mentioned above. With the right information, you can participate in your treatment and make informed decisions.

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Brenda Coles
I'm an elementary school teacher who became a stay-at-home mother when my first child was born. I love to write about lifestyle, education, and news-related topics.