Care for Dying Mesothelioma Patients Severely Lacking

Disturbing results of a study conducted by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) do not bode well for victims of asbestos-related mesothelioma who are dying of their disease. The study found that 40 percent of those dying from mesothelioma did not receive the proper end-of-life care. These mental, emotional, and physical health issues were being neglected for both terminal mesothelioma patients and their families.
When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the lack of effective treatments and the effects of the disease itself can have a detrimental effect on the patient and his family who must say a long goodbye. The psychological needs of cancer patients are sometimes overlooked, but the BLF study found that 46 percent of mesothelioma patients were not even offered any psychological support for themselves or their family. Up to one fifth, 20 percent, did not feel that they had an open dialog with their physicians after their diagnosis. Despite the promising results of many clinical trials for new mesothelioma treatments, 59 percent of patients were not even offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

Support for family members was even less. A majority, 57 percent, were not offered any assistance for their dependents and family members. Caretakers of terminal mesothelioma patients felt left in the dark, with 52 percent of them reporting that they felt uninformed about the disease and what to do.

While the study was only conducted in the United Kingdom, a similar study in the United States could pose similar results.

The chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, Dame Helena Shovelton, said, “Mesothelioma kills one person every five hours in the UK and the numbers are increasing every year so it essential that those affected are given the support they need at such a frightening and uncertain time.”

The mortality rate for mesothelioma is high, with 90 percent of victims perishing from the ravaging effects of the cancer within three years of their diagnosis. Despite the terminal nature of the cancer, care for those at the end of their lives and their families should not be neglected by health care professionals whose job it is to care for the bodies and minds of their patients.