The Journal of Global Oncology found that a mesothelioma patient’s ability to travel requires assessment on a case-by-case basis. No uniform medical opinion for who can fly with mesothelioma or other types of cancer exists. Mesothelioma usually results from asbestos exposure, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Given the circumstances people living with mesothelioma must deal with, it is easy to understand why fulfilling a need or want to travel would be a concern. Like most people, those living with mesothelioma might want to travel for vacation, to visit family and friends, fulfill bucket list items, or get medical treatment not available locally to them.
Plus, air travel is still reaching all-time highs for flights and passengers. For the past several years, air travel accessibility and affordability has increased around the world. For people living with chronic diseases and illnesses like mesothelioma, deciding to travel requires a deep consideration for the practicality of boarding a plane.
Mesothelioma Health Risks Can Be Exacerbated by Air Travel
Generally, determining if you can fly with mesothelioma depends on which health risks you face by flying. According to the Journal of Global Oncology, unstable patients who are currently receiving intensive radiation or systemic treatment protocols—or those who are terminal—should not fly commercially in general. At the same time, there are no airline-given restrictions on cancer patients and flying. In one study of 63 brain cancer patients, most people could fly safely while experiencing mild symptoms.
Some cancer and cancer treatment symptoms and side effects can intensify with air travel. Different mechanisms of the plane and a lack of emergency medical resources while flying can pose a problem. That is why talking to your medical provider about the risks of flying is a good step to finding out what possible risks you or your loved one face.
Air Cabin Pressures
Currently, airplane cabins are adjusted for air pressure to normalize levels when the plane reaches higher altitudes than humans can usually withstand. For people with mesothelioma and other types of cancer, sensitivity to air pressure could pose a threat to their well-being by affecting the oxygen blood level of everyone on the plane. This is an obvious risk for people with mesothelioma, who might already face high levels of fatigue, blood clotting issues, or feeling generally ill.
Air Cabin Humidity
Airplane cabins have low humidity, primarily due to the way air is regulated and pressurized within the airplane during flight. This could have a few different outcomes for people with cancer who need to fly. First, it could irritate the throat and lungs, which is especially a concern for people with mesothelioma. Air cabin humidity also puts people with mesothelioma and other cancers at risk for dehydration, which is generally detrimental to health.
One more serious concern about air cabin humidity is the spread of disease. Cancer patients may already be on medication to suppress their immune systems, which makes them more vulnerable to catching airborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Journal of Global Oncology reports that airplane cabins may aid in the spread of pathogens. Anything from the common cold to more serious viruses could be life-threatening for people with mesothelioma. While the general advice is to limit air travel for immunocompromised people, there is not much data or tracking for flight-airborne illnesses.
Problems Upon Arrival
The duration of the initial flight is not the only concern for people with mesothelioma and other chronic illnesses. More complications can pose a threat after arrival, concerning access to healthcare and other medical expenses related to illness like repatriation or air ambulances, according to the Journal of Global Oncology.
Mesothelioma Treatment Risks While Traveling by Air
If you have been treated for complications of mesothelioma, you might have recently had surgery to remove and treat tumors around vital organs including the lungs, heart, and stomach. The Journal of Global Oncology recommends a delay of at least one to two weeks after major surgery because of an increased risk of suture line tears and bleeding.
For patients with recent operations or health issues concerning the lungs, there are physical tests that doctors may recommend before you take a flight. Additionally, availability to doctors who perform these tests may not remain accessible to all patients, so it is not always possible to do before the flight date.
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Find Legal Representation for People with Mesothelioma
Not many people would willingly expose themselves to asbestos or other toxic substances, risking the chance of developing Mesothelioma or other cancer types. Throughout recent decades, people around the world have been exposed to toxic chemicals that are known to cause mesothelioma and other health issues, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
If you or a loved one is dealing with the costs, complications, and emotional burdens of mesothelioma treatment, there are legal options for you. Working with a lawyer to understand your unique case and your potential legal resolutions may help. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to speak about your asbestos exposure case. Reach us at (800) 307-3113.