Everyone reacts differently when receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, and that’s completely normal. Some patients are scared about their prognosis, and some are angry when they learn mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Others may scream and cry, while some remain completely silent. Many people go through all of these emotions and feelings over time.
Confusion is also a common reaction to a mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer — only about 3,200 people are affected every year — and there is a chance that before this diagnosis, you only heard the word “mesothelioma” on late night lawyer commercials. In the days and weeks following a mesothelioma diagnosis, it is important to set those feelings of fear, anger, and confusion aside momentarily and create a list of questions for your doctor. Your doctor should be a source of information and he or she will be committed to providing you with everything you need to know about this awful disease.
Not sure where to begin? Afraid you will miss some key questions? The American Cancer Society offers their recommendation as to which questions you may want to ask your mesothelioma doctor.
Questions about Your Condition
- What is the stage of the cancer, and what does that mean?
- Has my mesothelioma spread beyond where it started?
Questions to Ask Your Medical Professionals
- How much experience do you have treating mesothelioma?
- Do I need to see any other types of doctors?
- Should I get a second opinion? Can you recommend someone?
Questions about Mesothelioma Treatment
- Do I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
- Is my mesothelioma likely to be removable by surgery?
- What are my treatment options?
- What is the goal of treatment?
- What treatment do you recommend and why?
- How quickly do we need to decide on treatment?
- How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
- What risks or side effects are there to the treatments you suggest?
- How will treatment affect my daily activities?
- What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work, or if the mesothelioma comes back?
- What type of follow-up might I need after treatment?
This list is not exhaustive — it’s just the beginning. If there is absolutely anything you would like to know more about, add it to your list of questions for the doctor. Remember: You are fighting for your life. You should not feel embarrassed, awkward, or ashamed when asking questions. It’s your health and you deserve the best information and treatment possible.
Choosing the Right Mesothelioma Doctor
After asking your doctor questions, there is a chance you may feel like he or she is not qualified to treat mesothelioma. If that is the case, ask your doctor if they can recommend any mesothelioma specialists. You can also do research online, or call Mesothelioma Hope at (866) 608-8933. Our Patient Advocates can assist in finding mesothelioma treatment centers and specialists that may be able to treat you best.
One of the most important things to remember? Time is of the essence. Mesothelioma takes 20-50 years to develop in the body, but once it’s there, it moves quickly. You need to find a doctor you trust as fast as possible to ensure you receive the most thorough treatment available.
If money is a concern when choosing your mesothelioma specialist, be aware that there are financial options available to many patients. Read our blog post about how mesothelioma patients can afford to travel to specialists to learn more. In some cases, patients have even turned to crowdfunding websites that can help them raise money to cover the costs of steep medical bills.
The bottom line is that there are countless doctors and professionals ready to help you fight mesothelioma head-on — all you have to do is ask.