Questions for Your Doctor
A mesothelioma diagnosis is overwhelming. The newly-diagnosed will be full of questions, doubts, and emotions and so will the mesothelioma patient's loved ones.
Though this disease is not uncommon among those who worked with asbestos, the general public isn't as well-educated about mesothelioma as they are about other types of cancer. That means the patient and their family and friends will have many questions about a variety of aspects of the disease, from the initial diagnosis to the mesothelioma treatment and the prognosis.
Asking questions is good and can often relieve some of the unreasonable concerns that may be sitting in the back of your mind. It's important to have the facts! Misconceptions lead to more distress, so be sure to consult your doctor whenever a question arises. Here's a list of some common questions you may want to ask your family doctor or oncologist.
- How did I get mesothelioma?
- Are there different kinds of mesothelioma? If so, what kind do I have?
- Will I need more tests to confirm this diagnosis?
- At what stage is my cancer? What does this "stage" mean for me?
- Has the cancer spread from the primary area of the tumor (pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial)?
- What other symptoms will I develop?
- What other doctors/specialists will I need to see about my disease?
- Will I be put in the hospital?
- What are my treatment options?
- Which treatments have offered the most success in dealing with mesothelioma?
- Will I be cured by the treatment? If not, how will it help?
- What are the benefits vs. risks?
- Where will I go for treatments?
- How often will the treatments be administered?
- Do I have a choice as to whether or not to accept a particular form of treatment?
- How do I prepare for treatments?
- What should I expect to happen during chemotherapy? Radiation? Surgery?
- What side effects are common with each treatment? How can I control them?
- Can my cancer still get worse after treatment?
- Will my medical insurance cover the cost of treatments?
Quality of Life
- Will I be able to take care of myself while I'm sick?
- Will my family be able to take care of me as my disease progresses or will I have to go to a hospital or nursing facility?
- Will I be able to continue working?
- Can I continue to do leisure activities on my own or with family and friends?
- What is my prognosis?
- What can I do to make the most of the time I have left?
- Did I develop mesothelioma at work?
- Is my employer somehow responsible for my getting the disease?
- Is my employer responsible for some of my expenses?
- Should I retain legal counsel?
- I often came home with asbestos dust on my clothes. Is my family also at risk of developing the disease?
- If so, what should they do to determine their risk?
- Can I speak with other mesothelioma patients you've been treating?
Remember, because there's a lot to learn about the disease and you'll no doubt be dismayed by the diagnosis of mesothelioma, it's best to bring a trusted family member or friend with you to your doctor's appointments. Though they'll be upset by the diagnosis as well, the loved one can look at things from a more logical point of view and he/she may ultimately be better at gathering the information you'll need in the future.
It's okay to allow others to take some control and ease your burden. You'll need to concentrate all your energies on fighting the disease!
- Cancer Research UK, Types of Mesothelioma. Specific Cancers: Mesothelioma. http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=4398
- Dunn, Steve. "Understanding Cancer Types and Stages" Cancer Guide. Cancer Basics http://www.cancerguide.org/basic.html
- American Cancer Society. Detailed Guide: Malignant Mesothelioma, What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Malignant Mesothelioma http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_5X_What_should_you_ask_your_physician_about_malignant_mesothelioma_29.asp
Last modified: December 24, 2010.