Mesothelioma is an incurable and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It can take a long time to develop after exposure, but once it does, the disease progresses quickly, and patients often receive a diagnosis in later stages of the disease.
Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life for patients. Palliative treatments target the symptoms of the disease rather than the cause. Palliative care is different from hospice care, which patients undergo when they are near the end of their life. Patients may receive palliative care at any time, and there is evidence that introducing palliative care earlier may actually increase life expectancy.
Though extending life expectancy is not the ultimate goal of palliative care, it can have positive effects on survival time. Patients who are managing their symptoms can maintain a more normal routine. Palliative care can also help prevent or minimize complications from other treatments. A specialist can work with the rest of the patient’s care team to ensure that treatments do not conflict.
What Are Palliative Treatments for Mesothelioma?
Patients have several treatment options when it comes to palliative care. There are two surgical procedures used to manage mesothelioma symptoms: thoracentesis and pleurodesis. Both help to relieve pain and pressure from pleural effusions.
Chemotherapy and radiation are often used as part of a multimodal treatment plan, but they can be used on their own in a palliative way. Reducing tumor size can relieve some of the pressure in the tight space of the chest cavity, making it easier to breathe and relieving pain. Both chemotherapy and radiation can have serious side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and hair loss for chemotherapy and skin irritation or pulmonary toxicity for radiation, which would then have to be managed as well. Patients have to weigh the benefits of these approaches.
Pain medication is a frequent part of palliative care plans for mesothelioma patients. There are also wellness treatments that can help minimize pain and improve overall health. Patients can benefit from massage therapy or acupuncture to reduce pain, and physical or occupational therapy can help improve stamina and range of motion. Nutrition counseling can help patients ensure they are getting the right nutrients if they are experiencing loss of appetite. Meditation, yoga, and other therapeutic activities, such as art or music therapy, can have a significant impact on patients’ mental health and outlook.
A palliative care plan for mesothelioma patients must include psychological care as well. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be a source of stress, anxiety, fear, confusion, and depression for patients. The disease may prevent them from working, traveling, or enjoying hobbies.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease. Because the disease is so rare compared to other cancers, there are far fewer specialists with expertise in treating mesothelioma. A 2021 study of mesothelioma patients revealed that many of them felt uncertain about their palliative care, including what their care options were and how they could access those services. Encouraging the need for palliative care can go a long way.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Provide Comprehensive Representation to Mesothelioma Patients
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another type of asbestos disease, one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law can provide legal guidance. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case.