Mesothelioma Patients Face Difficult Choices
There is no such thing as a “good” cancer diagnosis, but when you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you quickly learn that it’s really, really bad. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that’s caused by exposure to asbestos many decades before you’re ever diagnosed. Because the cancer is notoriously resistant to traditional treatment protocols, and in most cases will have metastasized long before it is ever detected, most patients die within two years of their cancer being identified. Worse still, the two years that follow are extremely challenging, as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy all take their toll along with the cancer itself.
This means that mesothelioma patients are faced with the difficult choice of how to move forward. Should they choose to fight their cancer and pursue aggressive treatment options? Or should they let nature take its course and resist the urging of family and friends to fight it with everything that they have.
The truth is that when it comes to mesothelioma, even those who choose quality of life over aggressive treatment usually end up undergoing some type of treatment. As the tumors grow and put pressure on internal organs or make breathing more difficult, protocols such as surgery or radiation therapy can go a long way toward providing relief from pain and discomfort. This type of minimal treatment is often the path that patients pursue, opting for palliative treatment that allows them to spend their remaining time in the way that offers them the most possibility for pleasure and time spent doing the things that are most meaningful to them.
There is no question that a mesothelioma diagnosis is a shock, and patients need time to absorb the news before they make decisions about how to move forward. There is a wealth of information about what to expect, and as scientists learn more about the disease, they are able to provide realistic assessments of the time that an individual patient has left to them if they pursue aggressive treatment. If a patient is told that through aggressive treatment they may end up living another five years, they are likely to make a different decision than a patient who is told that they have less than a year to live. The goal is to get the best and most complete information that you can, and then to make the decision that most closely matches your values and goals.