Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks cells in the tissue lining the body cavities called the mesothelium. Asbestos exposure is known to cause mesothelioma. According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, between 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. Projections indicate that this rate of incidence will rise in the next several decades. Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed in patients between 50 and 70 years of age.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are urged to have an honest, open conversation with your doctor. You’ll be learning to live with mesothelioma and its treatments. It’s important that you feel comfortable to express any concerns and ask any question at all. Sometimes, when faced with a serious diagnosis like mesothelioma, patients don’t know what questions to ask.
In such cases, the American Cancer Society suggests some questions to ask your mesothelioma doctor about your diagnosis and prognosis:
- What is the exact kind of cancer I have?
- Has the cancer spread beyond the place where it started?
- What is the stage of the cancer?
- Is my cancer likely to be removed by surgery?
- Are there other tests that need to be done?
- Are there other doctors I need to see?
- How often have you treated this type of cancer?
- Should I get a second opinion?
- What treatment choices do I have?
- What do you recommend and why?
- What is the goal of treatment?
- What should I do to be ready for treatment?
- How long will treatments last? What will it involve? Where will it be done?
- What is the goal of this treatment?
- What are the risks or side effects of the treatment?
- How will treatment affect my daily life?
- What type of follow-up might I need after treatment?
- What would we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back?
These suggestions are meant to help you think of your own questions. The best person to talk to is your mesothelioma doctor, but nurses and other healthcare practitioners may be able to answer some of your questions.