Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be a shocking and life-altering experience. You’ll need to be emotionally prepared with what to expect before, during and after your treatment. Dealing with the news that you have cancer of any kind is a tough one, but the more you inform yourself about malignant mesothelioma and what to expect along the way, the easier it will be to handle the road that is now ahead of you. Along with being prepared with general knowledge on this rare form of asbestos cancer, there are many questions you will need answered to understand both your options and effects of treatment as well as the risks and potential outcomes.
One of the best ways to arm yourself with the information needed is by talking with your doctor. However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially when still dealing with the initial shock of your new diagnosis. Here is an outline of many of the important questions necessary to ask your physician. This will help guide you in asking the right questions and get the answers needed for a full understanding of your condition and what to expect as well as aid you in making the right decisions for your particular diagnosis and treatment. This may also help you in thinking of additional questions you may have your particular situation.
What type of mesothelioma do I have?
What are the differences between my type of mesothelioma and the others?
There are three main types of mesothelioma that include pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma. It is important that you understand the type that you have and how this affects your treatment options and prognosis.
What stage is my cancer and what does this mean?
How does my stage of cancer affect me?
What if my stage of cancer changes and what will this mean?
The stages of mesothelioma are determined by the how much the cancer has spread within the body and the number of body organs and/or tissues that may be involved. It is important you understand your cancer stage and how this affects you.
What options are available to me for treatment?
Which of these treatments would you recommend the most?
Why would you recommend some treatments over others?
What are the chances my cancer will recur with each treatment plan?
What side effects and risks should I be aware of with treatment?
How long will my treatment take?
What is the recovery time expected for the type of treatment?
What should I expect when I come in for treatment?
How can I prepare myself ahead for time for treatment so that I will be ready?
Is there anything I should be doing on my own to personally aid in the treatment process?
There are many questions you will need to ask regarding treatment of mesothelioma. It is very important that you thoroughly understand your treatment options and what to expect throughout to be able to be involved as much as possible in the process. This will also reduce the number of surprises you may face along the way, which in turn will help in easing the stress felt while going through the process.
What are the chances that my case may be curable?
How do you feel about my prognosis and long-term chances of survival?
Your doctor can help you understand your chances of a cure and the percentage of survival. This is based on statistics of those that have the same type and stage of cancer that you have. The initial answer you receive may be scary and shocking at first. However, being informed and getting the information up front will eliminate later surprises. Remember to remain realistic throughout your treatment without giving up hope. You also want to be as involved as possible in your treatment and decision making process.
Are there differing medical opinions about treatment and prognosis for those in my similar situation?
Would you recommend a second opinion?
When facing any difficult medical diagnosis, it is often very important to get a second opinion. Talk to your doctor about your thoughts. A good physician will be receptive to your ideas and concerns and should be comfortable and encouraging with your need for another opinion. Sometimes another doctor may have a different take on your case or may have new and additional information that another may not. However, be sure to completely evaluate any and all information from any doctor and weigh your options carefully to make the most appropriate decisions in your medical care.
Are there any clinical trials available involving my type and stage of cancer?
Clinical trials may turn out to be a valid option for you and offer treatments that may not otherwise be available to the public. Be sure to discuss all the possibilities and risks involved with any clinical trial offered to you.
Sometimes it is hard to remember all the questions you want answered while in the doctor’s office. You may be feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by your circumstances. Be sure to write these questions down and take them with you for your next doctor’s visit. You will also want to write down any and all additional questions and concerns you have as well. Let your doctor know you want to take the time to have your questions thoroughly answered during your visit. You will also want to write down much of the information the doctor gives you at this time as the amount of information may be a lot for you to remember once you have left the office.
You may be afraid at first to ask questions because you are afraid of what you may hear. However, often the fear of the unknown is worse than the information received. Even if you get bad news, you can then be prepared for what is to come and how best to make decisions regarding your care and mesothelioma diagnosis. Remember, the more information you can arm yourself with, the less stressful the process will be for you as you’ll know what to expect. You will also be able to use your knowledge to help the process along in many positive ways that can affect that eventual outcome in your case.