One of the most critical decisions a mesothelioma patient can make is choosing a qualified specialist who can effectively diagnose and treat their disease.
Why Do Patients Need Mesothelioma Specialists?
Cancer patients know they need to consult with a surgeon or oncologist once diagnosed. However, not all doctors are qualified to handle mesothelioma. Finding a medical team that specializes in mesothelioma is the most important decision a patient can make. These specialists know about the newest, most promising treatment options for the best prognosis possible. Find a mesothelioma specialist who is right for you with our free Doctor Match program.
What Mesothelioma Specialists Offer
Specialists have the ability to diagnose mesothelioma and develop unique treatment plans for every patient they see, based on each diagnosis.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease that few doctors encounter in their careers. Specialists, however, see multiple patients every year, making them familiar with mesothelioma and its treatment.
Good doctors are connected with top cancer centers, clinical trials and the latest treatments. This makes it easier to receive an integrated treatment experience from people who understand the disease.
Why Experience Matters
The ideal specialist has extensive experience in a broad range of mesothelioma diagnoses and treatments. There are many factors that contribute to a mesothelioma specialist’s ability to treat the disease effectively.
Specific Mesothelioma Types
Mesothelioma occurs in the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Having a doctor who specializes in the location of a patient’s diagnosis is very important. Some specialists focus on pleural mesothelioma, while others specialize in peritoneal mesothelioma. Specialists are not one-size-fits-all and must be selected based on the patient’s diagnosis.
Years in Practice
When it comes to caring for patients with mesothelioma, experience counts. Mesothelioma is a rare disease with unique challenges. Seasoned specialists with years of experience know what to expect and how to handle it.
It’s an advantage for patients to be treated by a team of people that are all working together towards a common goal. Receiving treatment at a cancer center that can perform all disciplines of treatment in one location protects patients from communication problems between medical professionals. It also provides patients with an expert panel of doctors who can work as a team to create a plan that incorporates multiple disciplines of care to improve life expectancy as much as possible.
Treatment for Different Stages
Some doctors develop personalized treatment plans for every cancer stage. Other specialists focus on providing pain relief and life extension, while yet others are experts in curative options. What a patient needs is a team of physicians that can do all of the above comfortably and have experience with their unique diagnosis.
There are a wide variety of surgical options for mesothelioma patients, ranging from the chest to the abdominal region to the heart. Not every specialist has experience with all areas, so finding a specialist with experience in your affected area is vital.
Because of the nature of mesothelioma, treatment plans often require some adjustment. Specialists are able to monitor improvement and effectiveness, and then prescribe new treatment if necessary. Patients should seek specialists who are willing to monitor and adjust their treatment plans.
Benefits of a Specialist
Choosing a specialist who can cater to a patient’s specific type and location of mesothelioma is important. A patient should be comfortable communicating with their doctor.
Many specialists are well connected with the clinical trial community and can assist patients in finding the most advanced trials. Admittance into clinical trials is a great way to receive cutting edge treatments. Mesothelioma specialists can be a gateway to these important options as they are often the overseeing physicians in these trials.
Great healthcare is not all science; it’s also an art. For some patients, having a specialist who can provide emotional support and trust is extremely important. Many patients prefer doctors who help them understand what they are going through; doctors who have the hands of a surgeon and the heart of a friend.
Mesothelioma treatment can be very expensive, and for that reason alone, finding a specialist that accepts a patient’s insurance is critical. Financial aid options that go beyond the cost of treatment may also be available. Patients should keep their ear to the ground with regard to new healthcare options since the laws are changing with new installments of the Affordable Care Act.
Location and Ease of Travel
Many people travel across the country to see top specialists. There are very few treatment programs dedicated to mesothelioma, so travel is something to consider when looking for cutting edge opportunities. Certain programs even provide lodging for families while the patient undergoes treatment.
Types of Specialists
- General physician – Often a family doctor who performs basic tests and imaging (such as X-rays), then refers a patient to a specialist based on the results
- Radiologist – Focuses on imaging technologies (X-ray, CAT scan, PET scan, and CT scan) used in the diagnosis of disease
- Surgeon – Performs a surgical biopsy which is sent to a pathologist for review. A thoracic surgeon performs pleural biopsies and a general surgeon performs peritoneal biopsies
- Pathologist – Reviews fluid or tissue biopsy samples under a microscope to determine cell type
- Pulmonologist – Specializes in lung disease and evaluates lung function
- Gastroenterologist – Specializes in diseases of the digestive system and issues occurring in the abdominal region
- Cardiologist – Specializes in congenital heart defects and other heart disorders
Post Diagnosis Specialists
- Medical oncologist – Prescribes treatment after cancer is diagnosed. A general oncologist is the first team member a patient sees
- Thoracic surgeon – Performs invasive surgery on the chest and lung region to remove cancer cells
- Surgical oncologist – Performs operations on areas of the body affected by cancer (including the abdomen) to surgically remove tumors and cancer cells
- Radiation oncologist – Performs non-surgical radiation therapy
- Respiratory therapist – Supports respiratory functions and recovery following surgery
- Palliative care specialist – Provides treatments related to pain relief, patient comfort, and general well-being
- Psychologist – Provides treatment for the patient’s emotional needs, including counseling for patients and their families