Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the tissue called mesothelium, which lines your lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. It almost always occurs after exposure to asbestos. However, it can take 20 to 50 or more years before the symptoms manifest. Because of this long latency period, by the time it is definitively diagnosed it is usually at an advanced stage. No cure exists for mesothelioma, but in recent years significant progress has been made in understanding the disease and devising new treatments. Your prognosis and treatment depends on several factors, including how early the disease was detected, what type of mesothelioma you have, your age, your overall health and whether or not you smoke. If you have received a positive diagnosis for mesothelioma, here are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind.
If you choose to undergo treatment for the disease, you have a chance of prolonging the prognosis. Treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. For optimum effect, these three treatment methods are often combined. If you are strong enough and the cancer has not spread too far, curative surgery is an aggressive attempt to remove all apparent signs of the disease. If curative surgery is not an option because of the mesothelioma’s progression, palliative surgery gives you more time and improves your quality of life. Radiation therapy alone does not prolong survival, but in combination with surgery it helps to shrink or kill tumors. As a solo treatment, radiation therapy alleviates pain by reducing the size of tumors. Though chemotherapy does not cure mesothelioma, it is considered the most effective treatment. It is difficult to go through, but it eases symptoms, prolongs survival and improves your quality of life.
Another option to consider is volunteering for a clinical trial. Though there is an element of risk involved because the treatments and medications have not yet been approved, you would have the opportunity to benefit from cutting-edge treatments, such as gene therapy or immunotherapy. Be sure you understand all the potential risks and benefits of a clinical trial before you agree to participate.
Alternative treatments do not help to cure mesothelioma, but some complementary treatments help to control symptoms, such as breathlessness and the pressure you feel on your chest. These treatments include breath training, relaxation exercises and acupuncture.
For mesothelioma patients, emotional support is as important as physical treatment. Learn about your disease so you understand it better. Do not be hesitant about getting help with everyday tasks from close friends and family. Join a mesothelioma support group, where you can meet others who understand what you are going through. Check out online support message boards like the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network. If you need more help, consider individual therapy. If you suffer from anxiety or depression following your diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe medication that can help.
It is expensive to treat a rare cancer like mesothelioma. If you are a veteran, contact the Veteran’s Administration for financial advice and assistance. A number of charitable organizations provide help with treatment costs and care giving. You should also contact one of the best mesothelioma law firms to investigate your legal options for receiving compensation.
Though receiving a positive diagnosis of mesothelioma can be devastating news, there are options available to prolong survival, improve your quality of life, and receive emotional and financial support.
This article was contributed on behalf of Shrader & Associates, L.L.P., your number one choice when looking for qualified mesothelioma representation and litigation services. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!