Mesothelioma Guide’s registered nurse and patient advocate, Karen Ritter, compiled a list of important questions mesothelioma patients should ask their doctor following their diagnosis. For more information on mesothelioma and questions to ask your doctor, contact Karen at

Getting a diagnosis of mesothelioma can be a life-changing event. The overwhelming impacts can be felt not only by you but also by your loved ones.  

The first and most crucial step after getting a diagnosis of mesothelioma is finding a specialist. Not all physicians have the knowledge and experience to effectively treat this rare cancer.  

Once a specialized multidisciplinary treatment team is in place, the next important step is creating effective communication with your healthcare providers. Establishing an open dialog with your medical team will allow you to better understand your diagnosis, discuss treatment options, and make informed decisions about your medical care. 


Essential Questions To Ask Your Doctor 

What Is the Type and Stage of Your Mesothelioma?

It is important to understand the details of your diagnosis. The type and stage of your mesothelioma may impact which treatment options are available to you. Ask your doctor for a detailed explanation of your diagnosis, including the specific location of tumors, what organs are affected, and if your cancer has spread to other locations in your body.


What Mesothelioma Treatment Options Are Available?

Surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and clinical trials are treatment options mesothelioma specialists consider when evaluating your specific type of mesothelioma. Selecting a treatment plan for your specific type of mesothelioma involves the potential benefits, risks and outcomes.  


Is a Mesothelioma Specialist Needed?

Finding a mesothelioma specialist is one of the most crucial steps after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Not all healthcare providers have the knowledge and experience needed to treat this rare cancer. Seeking out a healthcare provider who specializes in treating mesothelioma can significantly impact the quality of your care. Ask your doctor if they can refer you to a mesothelioma specialist or a cancer center that has the expertise in treating your type of cancer.


What Side Effects Can Be Expected From Mesothelioma Treatments?

All cancer treatment options carry potential side effects. The same is true of the treatment options available for mesothelioma patients. Understanding the expectations and the potential side effects of specific treatments can be vital to making the appropriate decisions for your cancer journey. It is important to discuss all possible side effects and how they can be managed to minimize their impact on your life.


What Clinical Trials Are Available for Mesothelioma?

All medications and medical treatments are stringently tested through clinical trials to ensure effectiveness and safety. Due to the rarity of mesothelioma, many treatment options and therapies are still in the clinical trials stage. These clinical trials can offer access to new and developing therapies that have shown positive outcomes. Ask if there are any ongoing clinical trials or experimental treatments available for your specific diagnosis.


What Is Your Prognosis?

A prognosis is a medical prediction of a disease’s outcome, typically measured by the length of survival. Mesothelioma is unpredictable and aggressive, so no medical professional can provide a precise prognosis, but they can offer an estimate based on the type and stage of your disease. Learning your prognosis can help you understand what to expect in regard to your treatments, life expectancy and quality of life, which will help you plan for the future.


What Are the Expected Costs and Insurance Coverage?

Cancer treatments can cause a lot of financial strain. Ask your doctor for information on the expected costs of your treatment and whether your insurance will cover them. Find out if there are financial assistance programs or resources that may help you through your treatment process.


How Can I Manage My Symptoms and Improve My Quality of Life?

Mesothelioma causes a variety of symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. Discussing symptoms with your physician can help you find strategies to manage and improve your quality of life.  


Should I Seek a Second Opinion?

When facing a rare cancer, like mesothelioma, getting a second opinion can provide you with better insight into your diagnosis and the treatment options available. You may find that some physicians are more aggressive in their treatment approach than others.  Comparing treatment plans can put you in control of your cancer care.


What Support and Resources Are Available?

Getting a diagnosis of mesothelioma can leave you and your loved ones feeling overwhelmed. Effectively managing the emotional and mental strains can be challenging. It is important to be open and honest with your doctor. Ask about counseling services, support groups and other resources that can help you and your family navigate these struggles.


Managing your mesothelioma can be a daunting experience. There is an overwhelming amount of information to learn and decisions to make. Effective communication with your medical team is essential to understanding your diagnosis, treatment options and resources available to you and your family. Taking an active part in your treatment plan is a way to ensure that you receive the best possible care.

If you need help finding a mesothelioma specialist, contact our nurse navigator and patient advocate, Karen Ritter, at

    Sources & Author

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

About the Writer, Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is the lead patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She has a deep passion for patient care, which includes helping patients and their families search for treatment options at the top mesothelioma cancer centers. She finds the balance between encouraging patients to receive the best treatment possible while enjoying their time with loved ones and friends. Karen is a valuable asset for patients due to her knowledge of mesothelioma, compassion for the victims of this disease and dedication to guiding patients through their treatment journey.

    Sources & Author

Picture of Karen Ritter

About the Writer, Karen Ritter

Karen Ritter is a registered nurse navigator and patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She leads patients and families through their cancer diagnosis of mesothelioma, explaining treatments and support options. Karen, known by many patients as Nurse Karen, joined Mesothelioma Guide in 2021.