Coming to terms with a recent mesothelioma diagnosis is difficult. Coping with the news of your illness may take a while, but once you’ve had a chance to grieve, you may be ready to shift towards the future.

Mesothelioma is a complex and aggressive disease, and it’s essential that you ask the right questions to understand your exact diagnosis fully. This means knowing your mesothelioma location, cell type and stage.

Arming yourself with as much information as possible will prepare you for the many decisions you face ahead, including:

  • Treatment options
  • Clinical trial participation
  • Surgical procedures
  • Specialists and healthcare providers
  • Legal action and compensation

Here are 5 important questions you’ll want to have answered to take charge of your health and mesothelioma diagnosis:

1. What Are all My Available Treatment Options?

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to mesothelioma, this is an essential question to ask your doctor. There are several treatment options available for mesothelioma patients, and your doctor will be able to develop a plan that’s right for your disease stage.

Treatments include:

  • Surgery: There are a number of different surgical options for remedial and pain-relief purposes.
  • Chemotherapy: This form of treatment aims to kill the tumors and is often viable for patients up to stage 4.
  • Radiation Therapy: Can be used both before and after surgery to shrink tumors, or in isolation in some instances.
  • Multimodal Treatment: Some forms of mesothelioma require a combination of treatments to prolong life, such as a mixture of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Clinical Trials

Novel treatments are always being discovered and tested. Joining a clinical trial could not only increase your chances of access to emerging therapies but can also provide valuable knowledge for doctors to treat future mesothelioma patients.

2. How Is My Treatment Plan Tailored to Me?

Mesothelioma is a complicated disease to diagnose, but once it has been reached, both the patient and doctor must move quickly to ensure the best possible outcome. Each mesothelioma patient is different and so are their treatment plans.

A doctor will examine you, take into account your age, general health, lifestyle habits and the stage and location of the mesothelioma to create a personalized treatment plan. Some patients will undergo operations, while others will receive radiation or chemotherapy.

For best results, some doctors will combine surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy in an attempt to kill the cancerous cells and prolong a patient’s life. Your doctor will provide you with a tailored treatment plan that is best suited to your lifestyle requirements.

3. Am I Healthy Enough to Undergo Surgery?

This question is decided on a case-by-case basis. Your doctor will advise whether you are healthy enough to undergo surgery, and would not include surgery as an option if they thought that the risks outweighed the potential benefits.

Mesothelioma surgeries are significant operations and will only be performed if the patient is deemed fit enough to recover and withstand any potential complications.

Surgery is also dependent on the stage of your mesothelioma. Stages 1-3 patients are generally considered for surgery, though external factors (such as age, lifestyle and general health) will be discussed. Ask your doctor whether your general health is good enough to undergo surgery, or whether there are things you can do to increase your chances of recovery.

4. Should I Get a Second Opinion?

It’s entirely reasonable to want a second opinion on your diagnosis from another specialist. As mesothelioma is so rare, many doctors will not come across a case in their careers but might even be able to recommend another doctor who has.

It’s also wise to ask a second opinion before starting a recommended treatment plan. Some doctors are more willing to operate while other doctors prefer to experiment with novel therapies. If you feel you’re not being provided with all possible the treatment options, or simply want to double-check for peace of mind, tell your current doctor that you’d be interested in seeking a second opinion.

5. What Are My Legal Rights as a Mesothelioma Victim?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after coming into contact with asbestos at work, you may be eligible for compensation. A mesothelioma diagnosis is burdensome physically, emotionally and financially. Pursuing legal compensation can help you and your family recoup some of the costs and give you access to the best treatments possible.

If you choose to pursue a legal case, contact a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma, as they will help you gather all the necessary information to file your claim.

There are no right or wrong questions when it comes to a mesothelioma diagnosis. We recommend writing your queries in a notebook to bring to your next doctor’s appointment. Request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide for helpful information on treatment options, specialists and legal claims.

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Sources
  1. Questions to Ask Your Health Care Team. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/diagnosing-cancer/questions-ask-your-health-care-team. Accessed on July 20, 2018

Last modified: September 1, 2018