Upon receiving the news that you have mesothelioma, one of your first questions will be about treatment. “What are my options? Can it be treated?”
As medical and diagnostic practices improve, more mesothelioma patients are undergoing curative treatment and surviving for longer. However, some people learn of their disease too late — or have pre-existing conditions — to receive surgery, chemotherapy or other cancer-removing therapies.
For those patients, finding hope for the future is difficult. However, they can take action to make the most of the final months and years of their life. Similarly, medical teams can analyze their protocols for late-stage mesothelioma cases and maximize patient comfort and satisfaction.
A recent report published in Cancer Nursing analyzed the “surveillance of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients with non-curative treatment intent.” The most common form of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, develops near the lungs. It’s often compared with lung cancer, and the two diseases share many protocols and non-curative therapies.
“Findings identified … the lack of consistency and evidence around frequency and method of surveillance models,” the report stated.
Our staff at Mesothelioma Guide compiled six steps either the patient or medical team can take when the disease is in the latest stages and curative treatment isn’t possible.
What the Patient Can Do: Request a Second Opinion
You might be told your mesothelioma is in stage 3 or stage 4, and that your treatment options are limited. You also might be told you’re too old or not healthy enough for curative therapy.
Another doctor, such as an experienced specialist, may think differently. They may find your disease to be stage 2 instead, or they may feel confident they can use a unique treatment protocol to stop your cancer’s growth and even shrink it.
We always recommend you ask for a second opinion. Mesothelioma is a very rare disease, so rare that most doctors haven’t even seen it firsthand before.
If you were diagnosed at your local hospital or cancer center, you might be relying on information from an inexperienced doctor or oncologist. We can help you connect with one of the top-ranked hospitals and specialists for a second opinion.
What the Patient Can Do: Ask About Pain-Relief Treatment
If you’re confident that your diagnosis is accurate — and that curative treatment isn’t possible — then you should ask about pain-relief options.
Non-invasive surgeries can drain fluid from your chest region to reduce discomfort. Low doses of radiation can shrink tumors and prevent them from pushing against your lungs and other organs. Prescription pain relief medications are another option to increase your comfort.
What the Medical Team Can Do: Prioritize Reassurance and Trust
Hearing this discouraging news about their mesothelioma leaves patients vulnerable to many challenging emotions: fear, anxiety and stress, just to name a few. From the general oncologist to the nurse practitioner, treatment team members should focus on reassurance and building trust.
In fact, the Cancer Nursing report found “the need for reassurance and hope” to be integral in these cases. It also identified the “importance of trust and relationship” between the medical team and patients.
People with late-stage mesothelioma will struggle to keep a positive outlook. They’ll need a balance between positivity and honesty from their medical team to help keep those taxing emotions in check.
What the Patient Can Do: Focus on Your Quality of Life and Mental Health
Patients have a role in keeping those emotions in check, and they can take action to diminish their fear and anxiety.
We recommend seeking counseling or therapy — either through the hospital or off-site. Many top-ranking cancer centers have on-staff therapists explicitly to help patients cope with their difficult situations.
Other priorities include spending time with family and engaging in joyful activities. Try to limit how much emotional and mental energy you give to your cancer diagnosis. The disease should not affect potential cherishable moments with family and loved ones. Some of our mental health tips for mesothelioma patients will help people with a late-stage disease.
What the Medical Team Can Do: Virtual Follow-Up Appointments
Cancer Nursing perfectly summarized the strains placed on mesothelioma patients with a late-stage disease outside the realm of curative treatment:
- Frequent follow-up visits to outpatient clinics
- Significant anxiety
- Considerable time commitment
- Financial stress
As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, hospitals are shifting follow-up appointments to a virtual model to keep staff and patients safe from infection. Making this direction a permanent one for mesothelioma patients might be a wise choice. At the very least, it would require less time commitment and cause less anxiety.
“Evidence from other cancers and chronic health conditions suggests virtual or remote follow-up can lead to higher patient satisfaction without negatively impacting health outcomes such as survival time,” the Cancer Nursing report states.
What the Patient Can Do: Speak With a Lawyer
Receiving news of a stage 4 mesothelioma (or very advanced stage 3 diagnosis) diagnosis leaves patients with innumerable worries and concerns. Near the top — if not at the top — of the list is their family’s well-being.
Losing a loved one is emotionally and mentally taxing for a spouse, children and grandchildren. It’s also possibly one less source of income to preserve essential needs. Speaking with a lawyer may provide a solution to this issue: compensation.
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to a harmful substance known as asbestos. During the 20th century, American industries relied on asbestos for building and automobile construction, household appliances, wiring, plumbing, military ships and more.
The manufacturing companies made a fortune off producing and selling asbestos — and asbestos products. Their malicious business practices exploited hard-working Americans, putting them at constant risk of exposure to a deadly mineral. The result was around 3,000 new mesothelioma cases each year.
If you have stage 4 mesothelioma, please reach out to our team. We can provide medical advice on where to receive treatment, and we will explain your legal options.
We can also put you in touch with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer right away, ensuring that you don’t waste any valuable time in getting you and your family the financial help you deserve. Email our patient advocate, Carl Jewett, at email@example.com to learn more.
Show Sources & Author
- Surveillance of Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Patients With Noncurative Treatment Intent: A Narrative Review. Cancer Nursing. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32897908/. Accessed: 09/24/2020.