Common Questions About Mesothelioma Treatment
Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating and overwhelming, but patients and their loved ones should ask their doctor about anything they may be confused or unsure about. For non-medical help with mesothelioma, patients also have options. Being as informed as possible will help patients receive the best outcome for their cancer.
Which mesothelioma treatment is right for me?
Only you, with counsel from an experienced doctor, can determine what treatment is right for you. Your medical care team will sit down with you to help you and your loved ones determine the best course of treatment.
Which treatments you are strong enough to undertake and which will be most effective for your stage and type of cancer are central considerations, but they are not the only factors to account for.
You may wish to consider the short- and long-term side effects of various treatments, how many more months or years you may live with treatment, and your personal feelings about getting certain treatments.
How long will treatment take? What is the process?
Treatment length can vary considerably depending on what treatment you are getting, how far your mesothelioma has progressed, your overall health, whether or not you have to travel to receive treatment, and several other factors.
Your doctor will give you the best estimate of:
- When your treatment will begin
- How many stages or rounds of treatment are involved
- What exactly will happen during treatment
- How long your operation or treatment session will take
In addition to the actual treatment, you may also want to ask your doctor about how long you may have to spend in recovery between treatments and after treatment has ended.
How will mesothelioma treatment affect me?
Many mesothelioma treatments — especially curative surgeries — are serious procedures with long recovery times and potential side effects.
Surgery may require hospital stays of a week or longer, with months of recovery at home after discharge. During this time, you may not be able to carry out everyday tasks like house upkeep, exercise, and working. You may also experience side effects, such as difficulty in breathing, after curative mesothelioma surgeries.
In addition to destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also destroy some healthy cells, leading to potential side effects. Thankfully, most chemotherapy and radiation side effects go away after treatment.
Your doctor can provide detailed information on the most common side effects and risks of your treatment options.
Are there more natural treatment options available?
Many non-medical therapies and activities may ease your pain and increase your mental, spiritual, and physical health.
However, these treatments are not substitutes for procedures that have been carefully and rigorously tested, refined, and proven effective by experts with decades of knowledge and experience.
You should never undertake any cancer treatment without your mesothelioma doctor’s approval.
How much does mesothelioma treatment cost?
The total cost of treatment for mesothelioma can reach more than $500,000. This figure does not even account for related costs such as lost wages, at-home care, and travel and lodging expenses.
However, mesothelioma financial assistance such as private or government health insurance, VA benefits, and through other means may help you lower costs.
What if I choose to go untreated?
Mesothelioma doctors will do everything they can to suggest treatments that have the best chance of improving your life expectancy and quality. However, the choice to undergo treatment is yours alone.
Some mesothelioma patients decide not to get medical treatment for emotional, religious, practical, or other reasons.
The average life expectancy for a patient who is not treated for their mesothelioma is 12 months.
Where can I learn more about mesothelioma treatment?
The first place you should turn for information about mesothelioma treatment is your mesothelioma care team. They have dedicated their lives to treating mesothelioma and are highly educated on the subject.
However, there are a number of other excellent resources you may turn to for more information.
Other resources on mesothelioma treatment include:
- Support groups: While you should only follow the medical advice of a doctor, support group members and facilitators often share valuable mesothelioma treatment resources they have found helpful.
- Websites: Several websites such as clinicaltrials.gov, cancer.gov, and medlineplus.gov are just a few trusted sources where you can find information on mesothelioma treatment. Clinicaltrials.gov allows you to search for available clinical trials.
You should understand exactly what your options for treatment are, the likely outcome of each treatment, and the risks and side effects involved.