People diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma require immediate, expert medical attention from physicians who have experience in treating this rare and fatal form of cancer. Where cancer treatments have traditionally focused on battling the disease itself, an increasing number of cancer treatment centers are also offering their patients additional services designed to provide much-needed emotional support and pain relief, and this additional approach is making a very big difference for patient quality of life.
At the same time that they are told about treatment plans that include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, mesothelioma patients are being told to put their affairs in order, and that their disease has an extremely grim prognosis with an expected survival time that’s often less than two years from the time of their diagnosis. This has a devastating impact on a patient’s psyche: more than 25% of patients diagnosed with cancer suffer from depression, and even those who are considered to be in remission have a 50% increased risk of committing suicide. To address the emotional impact of a terminal diagnosis, more and more cancer centers are adding palliative care programs to their integrated care approach: where only 25% of cancer treatment centers offered this type of program in the year 2000, now nearly 75% of them do, and the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer recently announced that in order to be accredited, oncology centers now are required to ask their patients about whether they are experiencing emotional distress. This has led highly respected programs like Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center to add a portal that communicates with patients about their emotional wellbeing. The result has been patients revealing both emotional symptoms and physical discomfort symptoms much earlier, and getting better treatment.
Unfortunately, palliative care is something that mesothelioma patients may not fully understand: they may associate it only with the last few days of life rather than with part of a well-rounded treatment approach, and the same is true for some insurance programs, which may balk at providing reimbursement. This is counter to studies that have shown that palliative care may actually extend patient survival.
Working to improve patient quality of life is something that the medical field is working towards every day, and the same is true for those who act as advocates for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. For information on how we can help you get the best level of treatment and hold those responsible for your illness accountable, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.