Types of Doctors
Choosing a doctor can be a difficult process. Mesothelioma patients, like those with other cancers, will likely consult with a variety of specialists in the course of their treatment. With mesothelioma in particular, single modality treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation are rarely effective alone, and a multi-modality approach is often adopted in an attempt to give the patient the best possible prognosis. Because doctors today usually pursue specialties, this means that patients will receive treatment from an entire medical team.
In addition to the general practitioner a patient may have visited, suffering from symptoms of mesothelioma, patients will almost certainly be referred to an oncologist, a physician who specializes in the treatment of cancer. If surgery is an option, the oncologist may, depending on her training, perform the surgery herself or recommend a thoracic or abdominal surgeon, depending on the location of the tumor. Radiation oncologists or therapeutic radiologists may be called upon to perform radiation therapy to shrink the tumor.
However, treatment is not limited to simply fighting the cancer itself. A patient who is undergoing mesothelioma treatment may also see a pulmonologist or pulmonary therapist to maintain lung health and function as a follow-up to primary therapy. Additionally, the patient’s physical health is not the only concern. A mesothelioma diagnosis is often extremely difficult on the mental health of the patient as well as their family and friends. Oncologists may recommend a visit to a psychologist or psychiatrist in order to help the patient maintain a positive outlook, an attitude which has been shown to improve responsiveness to physical treatment.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma and life expectancy remains low, specialists in the field continue to work to improve the lives and health of those diagnosed with this rare cancer.