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Mesothelioma Late-Stage Care

The more advanced stages of mesothelioma present a variety of challenges for patients and their families. Caring for late-stage mesothelioma patients requires specialized knowledge and skill. Fortunately, there are numerous options — including hospice, palliative, and respite care — to help those with advanced mesothelioma remain as comfortable as possible.

Fact-Checked and Updated by: Jenna Tozzi, RN

Last updated:

Late-Stage Care for Mesothelioma Patients

A caregiver puts their hand on the shoulder of a mesothelioma patient to comfort them

There is currently no cure for any form of mesothelioma. As the disease progresses, patients may be in need of more symptom-easing care. Mesothelioma late-stage care makes patients as comfortable as possible and can be incredibly beneficial in improving a patient’s quality of life.

Despite its benefits, the treatment process can be mentally and emotionally draining on mesothelioma patients and their families.

Fortunately, there are various types of care and support available to help everyone affected during the later stages of mesothelioma.

Common late-stage care options for mesothelioma patients include:

  • Hospice care
  • Palliative care
  • Respite care

These care options make the patient as comfortable as possible. Families of mesothelioma patients may also need additional support such as bereavement care, which may help equip families with the resources they need to move forward.

Staying informed on your options before, during, and after late-stage care can help you feel more confident in your decisions regarding mesothelioma treatment. Download our Free Questions to Ask Your Doctor Checklist now so you’ll be better prepared for your next appointment.

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Hospice Care

Hospice care differs from generalized hospital care in that it focuses on providing emotional support and managing pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Hospice care allows family members, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to work together to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

Mesothelioma treatments are not actively sought during hospice care. This allows the hospice care team to provide the patient with physical and emotional relief.

Outside of pain management, hospice services include:

  • Counseling and grief management
  • Medications and treatments for additional illnesses (e.g., blood pressure, diabetes)
  • Physical or speech therapy
  • Religious services and support (via clergy)
  • Respite services for family members and primary caregivers

Many patients choose to enter an inpatient hospice center during the later stages of mesothelioma and other illnesses. In these facilities, patients receive round-the-clock care. A specialized team of doctors and nurses ensures patients receive the best care and are comfortable throughout their stay. If a patient wishes, hospice care may also be done at home. Hospice care is the most prominent choice for people in the last six months of life.

Did You Know?

Contrary to popular belief, hospice care does not always indicate the end of life. Patients may begin hospice care and later decide to continue treatments if their health remains steady for longer than originally thought possible.

No matter what you choose, hospice is a great option due to its comprehensive care system. With its focus on pain management, you will feel more comfortable than during your initial treatment phase. Hospice care is covered under Medicare and many other medical insurance plans.

Palliative Care

Mesothelioma palliative care seeks to treat and manage significant pain and suffering in patients through medication and other therapy methods. Palliative care also helps manage emotional and social issues or concerns that arise during late-stage care.

Like in hospice care, a coordinated effort between families, doctors, nurses, and other medical caregivers allows patients to live with as little pain as possible. Medical practitioners who administer palliative care are experts with special certifications to do so.

Palliative treatment differs from hospice care in that it does not necessarily correlate to end-of-life care. Palliative measures are often undertaken throughout the treatment process to ease patients’ pain or discomfort. As mesothelioma advances through the body, palliative care may become the primary focus as opposed to curative treatment.

Did You Know?

While active treatment of the condition is not the main goal of palliative care, eligible patients may still choose to receive treatments for their condition. This allows patients to keep fighting their battle with mesothelioma with courage, dignity, and comfort.

Most palliative care is provided in the patient’s home, allowing them to feel at ease in familiar surroundings. Many assisted living homes or long-term care facilities provide palliative care as well. Many inpatient hospices also offer distinct and strictly palliative care services in addition to traditional hospice care.

Respite Care

In the early stages of mesothelioma, patients may decide to live at home while they undergo treatment. This can help them adjust to living with mesothelioma. However, their condition may prevent them from caring for themselves. This means their immediate family must provide health care.

Respite care allows highly qualified caregivers to step in for those providing primary care to patients with mesothelioma. This service helps the immediate family recuperate from the constant health demands that come with treating and managing mesothelioma.

Respite care provides a vital break for families, spouses, or friends administering health care to a person with mesothelioma. Nurses and other providers can visit a patient in their home or at a temporary inpatient facility.

Certain forms of respite care are covered under Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance plans. Contact us at (866) 608-8933 right now to learn more.

Respite care services are often provided in conjunction with both hospice and palliative care services.

Bereavement and Emotional Support

Bereavement services help family and friends cope with the loss of their loved one. Because mesothelioma is not often caught until its later stages, families can be caught off guard by a patient’s diagnosis and prognosis. Due to the poor prognosis of these later stages, families may still be processing this shock when the patient passes away. A sudden loss can add to their suffering and even cause health issues.

Bereavement services and additional counseling offer family members an outlet to process this loss. They teach coping strategies and proven methods to understand and come to terms with grief. These services can be extremely crucial in preserving a family’s well-being after the death of a loved one.

Many hospices offer bereavement services for family members up to one year after their loved one passes. In addition to direct bereavement services, mesothelioma support groups can help families manage their grief. Interacting with others with similar experiences can help you process your emotions and find much-needed stability through this difficult time.

Emotional support services are also available through hospices as well as the team here at Mesothelioma Hope.

Are you caring for someone in the final stages of mesothelioma? Use our Free Self-Care Guide to help ensure you’re taking care of yourself and managing any feelings of stress or anxiety.

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Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits are the financial and physical items that a mesothelioma patient may leave for their family or next of kin after their death.

Depending on the situation, some surviving family members of mesothelioma patients can receive social security payments, military veterans pensions, and other benefits following their loved one’s passing. These forms of survivor compensation can help cover remaining medical bills as well as the cost of funeral and/or burial services.

To learn what benefits you may be eligible for and to help your family navigate late-stage care, contact our Patient Advocates at (866) 608-8933 today.

Mesothelioma Late-Stage Care FAQs

Does late-stage care impact mesothelioma life expectancy?

Late-stage care is focused on easing symptoms and improving a patient’s comfort instead of treating or slowing the disease. For this reason, late-stage care does not often impact mesothelioma life expectancy.

However, patients may experience improved quality of life while receiving late-stage care. 

Is late-stage mesothelioma painful?

As mesothelioma progresses, symptoms may become more severe or impact more areas of the body. Thankfully, several late-stage care options are available for mesothelioma patients to ease symptoms.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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References
  1. NIH: National Institute on Aging. “What Are Palliative Care and Hospice Care?” Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-palliative-care-and-hospice-care. Accessed on December 27, 2022.

  2. NIH: National Institute on Aging. “What is Respite Care?” Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-respite-care. Accessed on December 27, 2022.

  3. Palliative Medicine. (2021). “Understanding the palliative care needs and experiences of people with mesothelioma and their family carers: An integrative systematic review.” Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/02692163211007379. Accessed on December 27, 2022.

  4. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. “VA Survivors Pension.” Retrieved from: https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/spousepen.asp. Accessed on December 27, 2022.

How We Can Help

Mesothelioma Hope is passionate about helping patients and families affected by this aggressive cancer. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be scary and isolating, but we’re here for you at every step. Hope is only a phone call away.

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