All over the world there are researchers and physicians who have dedicated their lives to finding a cure for malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Their efforts build on what has already been determined to be effective — chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Yet despite the fact that these protocols have been proven to extend patient survival and improve quality of life, a recent study found that many patients diagnosed with the condition are never given chemotherapy.
The study, which was published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer, took a deep dive into the extent to which the only FDA-approved treatment of mesothelioma is actually used, and asked those who care for mesothelioma patients what their thoughts are surrounding why physicians or patients might opt out of its use. After interviewing 107 physicians and 19 nurses as well as mesothelioma patients and their caregivers, the researchers found that the physicians had a different understanding from the nurses regarding why chemotherapy is so frequently not provided, but that there are also some similarities in the justifications provided.
When the physicians were asked about chemotherapy use in mesothelioma patients, nine out of ten offered an opinion that more than ten percent of mesothelioma patients did not use the protocol despite being candidates, and almost fifty percent of the physicians who participated in the survey thought that number was much higher, and actually exceeded 20 percent. They attributed this to several different things, including a lack of specialists in rural areas, concerns over side effects and a general sense that it was not worth it to expend that type of effort or expense on patients who were going to die whether they were given the medication or not.
Nurses similarly felt that much of the decision-making about chemotherapy use was impacted by the treatment being unable to provide much benefit because mesothelioma is generally so far advanced when it is diagnosed, but they also thought that many of the doctors diagnosing the disease simply did not refer their patients to the oncologists who would have prescribed and administered the protocol. As for the patients involved in the study, many voiced a pragmatic approach, choosing to simply die rather than put themselves through the various adverse side effects that are known to accompany the use of chemotherapy.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you need to be aware that there are many treatment options available that may prolong your life without significant ill effect. You also need to know your legal options. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about your rights and how we can help.