Asking the right questions after a mesothelioma diagnosis can help prepare you to deal with the future, and provide you with information you need to be an informed partner in deciding on the best path for mesothelioma treatments. When you first meet with your doctor after getting your diagnosis, though, it may be hard to remember all the questions you want to ask. This list of questions can help you get all the information you need, and may include questions you wouldn’t have thought to ask.
Questions About Your Mesothelioma Diagnosis
- What kind of mesothelioma is it?
- There are three types of mesothelioma based on the location of the cancer — pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. Each of these have different prognoses, and suggest different types of treatment. They also present with different symptoms. Knowing which type of mesothelioma you’re dealing allows you to start preparing yourself for treatment.
- What stage is my mesothelioma?
- The Mesothelioma stage defines how far the cancer has progressed. The stages are numbered one through four, with stage one mesothelioma offering the most hopeful prognosis and the most treatment options. Ask your doctor which stage of cancer you’re dealing with, and exactly what that means to your prognosis and possible treatment options.
- Has my cancer metastasized?
- If the mesothelioma has spread beyond the original site of the tumor, it can be harder to treat. Your doctor can explain if and how far the cancer has spread, and how that will affect your treatment options and your prognosis.
- Is my cancer resectable?
- A resectable cancer is one that can be removed by surgery. Your doctors can’t know for certain until they actually perform the surgery, but they can make an educated guess at how likely it is that a surgeon can remove all the cancerous cells with surgery.
- Do you need to do other tests before we decide on a treatment?
- Are there other types of doctors I should see?
Questions About Your Doctor
- Have you treated this type of cancer before?
- A doctor experienced in treating mesothelioma is more likely to be aware of the wide range of treatment options, as well as of clinical trials for which you may qualify. Mesothelioma specialists, in particular, are likely to know and understand the specific challenges of this devastating cancer, and can steer you to support services and other services that can be immensely useful to you during and after your treatment.
- Should I get a second opinion?
- The answer to this question should always be yes. An experienced cancer doctor will generally be happy to recommend another doctor for a second opinion.
Questions About Mesothelioma Treatment
- What are my treatment options?
- Your options will depend on a number of factors, including the type and stage of mesothelioma, your age and general health, and the doctor’s experience with different treatments.
- What is the goal of treatment?
- There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but there are a number of encouraging new treatments that can help extend your life after a diagnosis, as well as many treatments that can stop the spread of the cancer, or relieve the symptoms and make your life more comfortable. Understanding the goal of a specific treatment will help you understand what to expect.
- In conjunction with this question, ask what treatment your doctor recommends, and why he feels it’s the best course of action for you.
- Do I need to decide on treatment right now?
- Mesothelioma is an aggressive, fast-moving cancer. It’s understandable for most patients to feel overwhelmed by treatment options and unable to decide right away. It’s important to know the time frame you have to make a decision so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
- What are the risks and side effects of each treatment you’re suggesting?
- All cancer treatments carry risks and side effects, including some that will make you feel even sicker during treatment. You have the right to be fully informed about all the risks and side effects of each of the treatments your doctor recommends to help you make a decision on which treatment path to follow.
- Tell me about the treatment. What will it entail?
- Treating mesothelioma is complex and may involve several different therapies. Your doctor or treatment team should be able to give you a “road map,” explaining where each treatment will be administered, how long it will take and what you should expect before, during and after each treatment they recommend.
- How should I prepare for my treatment?
- In most cases, the Mesothelioma cancer centers or your treatment team will give you printed materials that include specific recommendations and requirements leading up to your appointment. If you’re uncertain about any of the recommendations, ask your doctor to clarify them.
Questions About Living with Mesothelioma and Follow Up
- How will this treatment affect my daily activities?
- What sort of arrangements can we make to help me deal with chores, tasks and other daily activities while I’m undergoing treatment and after treatment?
- What kind of follow up and aftercare will I need after treatment?
- What if the treatment doesn’t work? Are there other options?
- Are there any clinical trials for which I might qualify?
One of the most proactive things you can do is to ask a patient advocate to accompany you to your appointment. They may be specially trained advocates, or just someone you know with a medical background. They’ll often have questions for the doctor that someone without a medical background may not think to ask.
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Mesothelioma and would like help with health and legal services? Call us at (855) 970-9988 for help today.