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Talking With Your Doctor About Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on March 1, 2024

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are dozens of questions that you may wish to ask your oncologist. This is a unique disease that comes with special considerations and treatment options. It is critical to be your own advocate as a mesothelioma cancer patient. Develop an open dialogue with your doctor from the beginning about how to improve your prognosis and quality of life with the right treatment plan. Get the medical care that you deserve with these tips for how to talk to your doctor.

Understand Your Diagnosis and Prognosis

To design the ideal treatment plan for you, you must first fully understand your mesothelioma diagnosis and prognosis. Your specific diagnosis will affect your treatment options, as they depend on factors such as the type of mesothelioma, the location of the tumors and the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma early, in Stage I or II, for example, it is more likely that you will be eligible for surgery as a form of treatment. Where the cancer is located can also determine if you are eligible for surgery. Ask your doctor for details about your specific diagnosis and whether your type or stage of cancer limits your treatment options.

Ask Your Doctor About These Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Although there is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, help is available for patients who receive this diagnosis. Several treatment options exist to improve a patient’s prognosis for the future and quality of life while living with mesothelioma. Even with a terminal cancer diagnosis, the right treatment plan can extend a patient’s life and make living more enjoyable. The following are treatment options that you should discuss in more detail with your doctor:

  • Surgery. Surgery is a viable option for patients who are younger and in good health, as well as for those with mesothelioma diagnoses that could benefit from surgical removal of tumors. A patient with pleural mesothelioma, for example, may be eligible for PD surgery to improve quality of life.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is often used to treat different types of cancers, including mesothelioma. It is a treatment that uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells in the body. It is often used in conjunction with surgery to kill any cancer cells that could not be surgically removed.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is another option for killing fast-growing cancer cells in mesothelioma patients. Rather than using drugs, it uses high levels of radiation to damage the DNA in the cancer cells. Radiation therapy can help alleviate symptoms associated with late-stage mesothelioma.
  • Palliative care. Patients may be able to improve their quality of life and reduce symptoms with palliative care. This refers to treatments that are less aggressive than surgery and therapy. It focuses on reducing pain, improving breathing and making life more comfortable for a patient. Although palliative care is often associated with later stages of the disease, there is evidence to suggest that it can be helpful for a patient earlier, as well.
  • Clinical trials. Researchers are constantly developing new treatment options that may help patients battle mesothelioma. Ask your doctor if you could benefit from participating in a clinical trial, which may offer alternative treatments that you cannot access elsewhere. A clinical trial could come with health benefits, but it can also have risks.

With help from your oncologist and other mesothelioma specialists, you can determine which treatment options you would like to pursue. You can also join a mesothelioma support group to speak to fellow patients who have similar diagnoses. They may have recommendations for physicians and treatment plans that can help you make your own care decisions. There is hope for mesothelioma patients. The best thing that you can do is to be your own advocate and engage in open conversations with your doctor about your treatment options.

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