Australian researchers investigating quality of life in patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma concluded that many victims of asbestos exposure are not realizing the quality of life that they could or should, and that this is having an impact on their overall survival.
Even Healthier Mesothelioma Patients Struggle with Symptoms
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Patients are generally not diagnosed until decades after they have been exposed to the toxic material, and once their disease is identified it is often too late for meaningful treatment. Symptoms can be overwhelming and debilitating, and the emotions they evoke are exacerbated by concerns about the individual’s family and loved ones. All of these factors contribute to the lower quality of life that was the subject of researchers from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia.
The researchers examined data collected during the RESPECT-Meso trial that gauged the effect of early palliative care on patients with malignant mesothelioma, and specifically on their quality of life. They found that lack of information about the rare disease combines with the high symptom burden to create significant hardships
Symptoms Combines with Unanswered Questions Diminish Quality of Life
Malignant mesothelioma tumors remain hidden in the body for years, growing silently. Patients’ earliest symptoms include chest pain, coughing and fatigue that are frequently misdiagnosed, allowing it to continue to spread until it is finally identified and treatment starts. The RESPECT-Meso trial, which included 261 recently diagnosed mesothelioma patients, showed that once patients learn of their prognosis their medical concerns often combine with depression and concerns about their families. This significantly diminishes quality of life.
Many of the complaints voiced by mesothelioma patients revolved around the care they were receiving. In their study published in the Journal of Palliative Care, they write, “Unmet needs were common: 25.9% wanted more information about their condition, 24.7% about their care, and 21.2% about their treatment. 79.1% were concerned about the effect of their illness on family.” Most concerningly, the team determined that the lower patients’ quality of life was, the sooner they succumbed to their disease.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.