I have been given a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Since this is a rare disease, how do I know that my physicians have enough experience with the disease to treat me?
If you’re facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you’re combatting a rare disease and it’s vital to make sure that your treating physician has adequate experience with the disease to sufficiently treat you and come up with a treatment strategy.
While it might make you uncomfortable, you should not hesitate to ask. Do not hesitate to ask your medical provider about what experience he or she has treating mesothelioma. Medical providers will not be angry but instead comforted. Remember that if your medical provider received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, he or she would also be performing research to find who the best person is to treat mesothelioma. If your medical provider has not treated over 50 mesothelioma cases, he or she will likely refer you to a cancer treatment center.
One of the most critical issues when selecting a medical provider is to pick someone you can fully trust. You will understandably want to assess your doctor’s expertise and determine if you trust his or her strategy for treating mesothelioma.
Some of the critical issues to consider when selecting a doctor include:
- Level of experience. Find a medical provider who you trust and with whom you can clearly communicate. Assess your medical provider’s experience with the illness as well as credentials. Inquire about how many mesotheliomas cases your medical provider has handled as well as the amount of time that he or she has been in practice.
- Specialty. Your medical provider should function in a multidisciplinary position, which means your doctor should have experience working with surgeons and oncologists who also specialize in mesothelioma. Preferably, your mesothelioma doctor should have at least several years of experience handling the type of mesothelioma with which you haven’t been diagnosed regardless of whether that is pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.
- Physician availability. Contact your doctor’s office to determine if they are accepting new patients and learn when you can arrange an appointment. Unfortunately, many doctors have limited officers or extended waitlists and do not provide the accessibility that you need from a new physician. If you’re visiting a new doctor, you should map the amount of time it takes to reach your new medical provider’s office.
- Clinical research trials. Assess the nearby cancer centers as well as what treatment options they offer. Inquire if they offer mesothelioma clinical trials as well as what the enrollment process includes. You likely will want to compare potential trials with other treatment locations.
- Cost. Discover what mesothelioma physicians are included in your insurance plan. Verify with the medical center that your medical provider is accepting specific insurance plans. You can also request paperwork detailing the cost of the services that you plan to receive.
- Location. The mesothelioma physician you select should reside at a cancer center that you can reliably visit. The cancer center should not be too far from you because this can lead to additional emotional, financial, or physical challenges when it comes to receiving treatment.
Why You Need More Than Just a Regular Oncologist
You should work with a doctor who specializes in the treatment of mesothelioma instead of an oncologist. Mesothelioma physicians have spent years focused on the diagnosis as well as the treatment of this unique cancer. These physicians appreciate the nuances of mesothelioma and its treatment. These doctors also know what it takes to help patients live longer by utilizing the appropriate therapies.
Visiting the Country’s Best Mesothelioma Treatment Centers
A growing number of physicians, as well as medical centers, are emerging as leaders in helping people diagnose and treat mesothelioma. By racing out to these locations as soon as possible following a mesothelioma diagnosis, it’s possible to create the most up-to-date care strategies. If you’re interested in working with physicians that apply state-of-art care strategies to tackle mesothelioma, you should consider visiting one of the following mesothelioma centers:
- Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The hospital has gained a reputation throughout the world for its groundbreaking work in surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation utilized to treat people impacted by mesothelioma.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Focused on multimodal treatment strategies which include radiation therapy, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has gained a widespread reputation for creating strong treatment strategies for patients facing pleural mesothelioma.
- MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. MD Anderson is a top center in mesothelioma research and provides groundbreaking radiation therapy as well as offers various clinical trials.
- Pacific Meso Center in Los Angeles, California. This center originated groundbreaking decortication and pleurectomy surgeries, which let patients save their lungs by removing damaged tissue.
- Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. This hospital gained its reputation due to its role in helping to establish OSHA guidelines addressing asbestos in the workplace. Mount Sinai is also one of the country’s oldest and most respected medical facilities and has on staff a variety of physicians who are recognized leaders in the treatment of various types of mesothelioma.
Important Questions to Ask Your Treating Physician
Receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma is overwhelming. Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma are not aware of the general prognosis. Many people also do not know what treatment options are available. Many people fail to understand changes to their lifestyle should be made to treat mesothelioma in the most effective manner possible. Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma fail to ask their treating physician the most important questions about mesothelioma. Some of the critical questions that you should ask the mesothelioma doctor who treats you include:
- How were you diagnosed with mesothelioma? Many people who are tested for mesothelioma have had at least one but sometimes several pleural effusions, which involve draining fluid located in or around the abdominal or pleural cavity. Testing this fluid can lead to a false-negative diagnosis. In situations where fluid continues to build, biopsies will be taken from the surrounding tissue and examined for malignant cells of mesothelioma.
- Was the biopsy appropriately tested for mesothelioma? To be adequately tested for mesothelioma, your biopsy must have been sent to a reputable center that focused on the treatment of mesothelioma. The biopsy will be stained through a unique test utilized to diagnose mesothelioma. Staining is utilized to either confirm or exclude the presence of mesothelioma.
- What is the location of the mesothelioma? Mesothelioma can be found in either the abdominal (peritoneal) or lung (pleural) of a person. Like other cancers, mesothelioma is staged from 1 to 4. Stage 1 suggests the earliest onset of mesothelioma, while stage 4 suggests an advanced stage of the illness.
- Has your treating doctor cared for other victims of mesothelioma? To make sure that you receive the best mesothelioma care possible, it’s important that the doctor you select for treatment has helped many other people create care plans for mesothelioma.
What a Mesothelioma Doctor Does
A mesothelioma physician has special knowledge and unique training concerning the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. Doctors who focus on treating mesothelioma do their best to stay up-to-date with research regarding mesothelioma. This range of knowledge distinguished mesothelioma-focused physicians from general oncologists who often do not have such experience.
Researchers have determined that mesothelioma results from prolonged exposure to asbestos, which is a naturally occurring carcinogen. Mesothelioma starts at various locations, but most commonly in either the pleural or peritoneal lining or even the thoracic cavity. A pleural mesothelioma doctor focuses on the diagnosis and treating mesothelioma that originates in the lining of the lungs, which is referred to as the pleura. Consider the following types of specialized mesothelioma doctors:
- Peritoneal mesothelioma physicians diagnose and treat the type of mesothelioma that originates in the peritoneum or abdominal lining. Peritoneal mesothelioma oncologists routinely work with surgeons to provide chemotherapy after surgery to remove surgery. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma. Often, doctors who treat peritoneal mesothelioma either practice oncology or gastrointestinal surgery. Physicians who treat peritoneal mesothelioma routinely recommend various treatments including paracentesis, immunotherapy, cytoreductive surgery, and chemotherapy. Often, peritoneal mesothelioma physicians work at center centers. Because peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, patients sometimes must travel to big cancer centers to access peritoneal mesothelioma physicians.
- Pleural mesothelioma physicians utilize various strategies including chemotherapy, experimental, immunotherapy, or surgery for treatment. Treatment options necessitate specific medical techniques including oncology or surgery. For example, pleural mesothelioma surgeons focus on surgeries that remove pleural tumors. Some common surgical procedures for addressing pleural mesothelioma include pleurectomy and decortication. Additionally, pleural mesothelioma radiologists focus on radiation therapy, which provides radiation to the chest region. Medical professionals who treat pleural mesothelioma rely on a range of treatments including chemotherapy, immunotherapy treatment, multimodal treatment, pleurectomy, pneumonectomy, thoracic surgery, and radiation therapy. In most cases, pleural mesothelioma physicians work at cancer centers. Smaller cancer centers sometimes lack pleural mesothelioma specialists with distinct expertise. Patients who need treatment for pleural mesothelioma often must pursue treatment at bigger cancer centers. A thoracic oncologist is a physician skilled in both diagnosing as well as treating various lung cancers. Thoracic oncologists are most likely to have experience handling pleural mesothelioma.
- Pericardial mesothelioma. An extremely rare type of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma impacts approximately 1% of the 3,000 new mesothelioma cases that are diagnosed each year. Medical providers treat pericardial mesothelioma by removing tumors that form along the lining of the heart. Due to its rarity and its involvement with the heart, pericardial mesothelioma is very hard to treat and routinely goes undetected until the patient passes away and an autopsy is performed. If you’re diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, you must look even more exhaustively than most mesothelioma patients to find a surgeon and medical team who possess the skills necessary to both diagnose and treat your condition. Understandably, most of the country’s best pleural mesothelioma surgeons are also highly trained cardiac surgeons.
- Testicular mesothelioma. Perhaps the rarest of all types of mesothelioma, testicular mesothelioma results in a tumor in a lining that surrounds the testes and leads to fluid backup in the scrotum. Given its particular rarity, few physicians have seen testicular mesothelioma, and even fewer have diagnosed the condition. Patients can request that their physicians inspect a buildup of fluid in the scrotum and recommend cancer specialists that can help treat the condition. Given the similarity of testicular mesothelioma to testicular cancer and the area impacted, it’s also vital that your physician rule out testicular cancer.
Why You Should Work with a Doctor Who Specializes in Mesothelioma
Doctors who specialize in mesothelioma treatment have the skill necessary to properly diagnose their illness and decide on an effective treatment plan. Malignant mesothelioma is a unique type of cancer that unfortunately can be misdiagnosed. Many oncologists lack experience in diagnosing or treating mesothelioma. Treating mesothelioma as early as possible is one of the best ways for patients to increase their life expectancy. Remember, treating mesothelioma is a nuanced matter. Both peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma specialists understand what types of cancer treatment are most effective. These medical professionals routinely work with a multidisciplinary team to establish a personalized plan for each patient’s case. Targeted team plans can increase a patient’s life expectancy while simultaneously reducing the severity of mesothelioma symptoms.
The Advantages of Utilizing a Mesothelioma Specialist
Mesothelioma physicians focus on all things associated with mesothelioma. The disease requires the assistance of skilled mesothelioma physicians due to the disease’s tendency to spread quickly. With the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable physician, mesothelioma need not be viewed as a terminal diagnosis. Instead, the best mesothelioma physicians have the skills and tools necessary to help increase the life expectancy of patients. Many times, working as a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, oncologists who specialize in radiation, and medical radiologists, the best mesothelioma physicians work together to create the best treatment options for each patient.
Selecting the Best Mesothelioma Doctor
Mesothelioma doctors as well as treatment locations throughout the country provide patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma with appropriate care. It’s a good idea to locate a mesothelioma team that you trust. Patients with mesothelioma should pose questions to learn as much as they can about a physician’s qualifications. Some of the issues to consider when retaining a mesothelioma doctor include:
- Experience. Patients should select a physician with substantial experience with that individual’s specific type of mesothelioma. Many mesothelioma physicians have experience handling either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. A specialized physician can also suggest the best treatment based on a patient’s cell type and mesothelioma stage.
- Treatment options. It’s vital for patients to select an oncologist who appreciates both standard as well as emerging treatment strategies for mesothelioma. A specialist can suggest the best treatment strategies for a patient’s situation. The best mesothelioma physicians around the country are also conducting research for new treatment strategies that could increase a patient’s odds of survival. These doctors can help qualifying patients determine clinical trials that can help improve the patient’s quality of life.
- Reliable communication. Mesothelioma patients should be able to count on their physicians. The best oncologists will listen to their patient’s worries and address any questions. Medical providers will offer recommendations, but patients ultimately must decide what type of treatment they receive. Physicians should be available during the treatment process to review the various side effects associated with the treatment process.
- Cost and other travel issues. Mesothelioma patients are often worried about treatment costs. Some patients as well as their loved ones travel for treatment and end up facing additional costs including those associated with accommodation. Patients should speak with their physician and insurance carrier to learn about what costs will and will not be covered. Some mesothelioma treatment locations provide support resources for patients as well as their loved ones. Additionally, various organizations provide financial resources to support patients.
What to Anticipate about Your First Mesothelioma Appointment
At your first appointment, you will enter into a discussion with your medical provider that addresses countless issues including diagnosis, your medical history, and what treatment options are available. The appointment often starts with either a physical exam or testing. After this, the mesothelioma physician will review the details of your mesothelioma diagnosis including the type of cancer, cell type, and stage.
During your first appointment, a physician who specializes in treating mesothelioma treatment will likely recommend a distinct plan. Patients, as well as their loved ones, can debate various treatment options, which include emerging treatments and clinical trials. Treatment should start as soon as possible to slow down the progression of cancer.
The first time that you visit a mesothelioma physician, you should take all of the necessary steps to prepare. Some of the things that you should bring to your physician’s appointment include:
- A friend or loved one that provides support and asks important questions
- A document detailing your current allergies
- A list of medications you currently take including supplements and vitamins
- A list of concerns as well as questions you have regarding mesothelioma
- All of your medical records and scans associated with mesothelioma
- A notebook to document important issues during the meeting
- Any new patient documents you received before the appointment