When people go shopping for a particular item, they often weigh several factors before making a decision. The same holds true for finding the right medical team to help one manage a debilitating disease. When that illness is malignant mesothelioma, a relatively rare but deadly form of cancer, patients will want to know that they are in good hands.
These concerns will grow more prominent as the incidence of mesothelioma lung cancer increases. Experts estimate that 8,500 individuals die every year because of asbestos-induced cancers.
Your one-on-one crew
Once you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need to make sure that you’re surrounded with the most knowledgeable people possible.
Government health experts describe this team as possibly including:
- A medical oncologist who is trained in a sub-specialty of internal medicine that deals with the management of cancer.
- A radiation oncologist with a sub-specialty using x-rays or other forms of energy to kill diseased tissue.
- A surgeon, who can physically remove tumors and cancers from the body.
These specialists often work together in order to determine the best approach to an individual’s malignancy.
But how do you go about finding the right specialists to work with? Your primary care physician, who can provide a referral, is a great place to start. Your local hospital may also have a patient referral service. If you are insured, and cost is a concern for you, you can ask your carrier for a list of specialists within your plan.
If you have several specialists from which to choose, keeping several questions in mind may be helpful:
- Is this doctor taking new patients?
- Is this physician trained and knowledgeable when it comes to mesothelioma?
- Will this person listen to my concerns and take them into consideration?
You may also feel better if you can verify that a doctor carries the right credentials and certifications. The American Society of Clinical Oncology has a database with this relevant information.
Getting a second opinion
All patients have the right to receive the most thorough information available about their mesothelioma. In some cases, achieving this may include seeking out a second opinion.
You may feel uncomfortable speaking to your primary doctor about this, but you need not worry. Not only are you entitled to a second opinion, but most medical professionals usually welcome this request and are happy to provide a referral. If it makes you feel better, you can bring a relative or trusted friend with you when you broach the subject with your physician.
It is ideal that the original clinician be involved in this process, as he or she needs to provide the next healthcare professional with your pertinent information.
When discussing any opinion, be it the first or second, there are several questions to keep in mind:
- How much experience do you have with mesothelioma care?
- What are my treatment choices?
- What risks and side effects should I expect?
Choosing the right facility
Management of your mesothelioma isn’t restricted to your medical team. You must also make sure you are in a facility that can meet your needs. Your choice of physicians may dictate where you undergo treatment. However, there are other things to take into consideration:
- How is this facility rated by government and consumer groups?
- Is the location convenient?
- What cancer support services – social, financial, etc. – are available?
- Which accrediting bodies recognize this hospital?
- Is this hospital experienced in treating mesothelioma patients?
This last question is particularly important. At Mesothelioma Circle, we have information on the most reputable mesothelioma experts in the U.S., and we can help you find the one that suits your needs. The initial consultation may require some travel, but it is well worth it. Furthermore, after your first meeting, the physicians at these facilities can supervise the future of your care under local doctors of your choice.