Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Victims

Due to the nature of the disease, malignant mesothelioma is not often diagnosed until its latest stage. All too often, patients are met with a poor prognosis. Mesothelioma has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers because of the extraordinary latency period (20-50 years) and lack of early detection techniques. Palliative care for mesothelioma victims is undeniably important, and requires a multidisciplinary team. Those diagnosed with mesothelioma often undergo intensive chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatments that leave the patient with numerous side effects. The approach to relieving these symptoms and side effects is palliative care, and it is a vital faction of a patient’s recovery. Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recognize the importance of quality palliative care. If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos, you do have the right to a legal claim, and should contact an experienced attorney.

Palliative care for mesothelioma victim includes draining of fluid that builds up in the chest and other physical side effects, as well as treating emotional, familial, practical and spiritual needs. Treatment is offered at every step of the medical process, and is especially important in victims of mesothelioma because of the cancer’s insidious nature. Mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos, which often occurs unknowingly.

Pain management is a key aspect of this care. The most common sources of pain are post-thoracotomy syndrome, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, involvement of the intercostal nerves by tumor invading the chest wall, and dyspnea. The palliative care provider also must be prepared to recognize and treat psychological disorders, to identify other social and spiritual sources of distress, including anxiety and depression, and to provide or arrange for counseling to patient and family for advance care planning, as well as grief and bereavement.

Randomized data indicate that early palliative care improves quality of life and depressive symptoms and may extend survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer compared with standard care. Combining an appetite stimulant with an antipsychotic leads to greater weight gain and appetite improvement compared with an appetite stimulant alone. Various treatment options that have shown success in treating cancer-related dyspnea are opioids, tunneled pleural catheters, bi-level positive airway pressure, and nebulized furosemide. Buprenorphine is a unique opioid which improves pain states dominated by central sensitization.

There is evidence that patients and family often have conflicting expectations. Palliative care teams find negotiation critical in effective relationships between providers and patients. In order to optimize patient and family decision making, the overall goals of care must be defined. For many patients and caregivers, it is the way they receive information that allows them to accept and act on it. Information received in a supportive way is experienced as a contribution to their overall well-being. This sense of actively participating in dialogs regarding their symptom burden was evident in the perspectives the patients shared regarding the importance of communicating with the team, knowing the team was there for them and understanding that alternatives existed for optimizing their comfort in an individualized way.

The philosophy of palliative care embraces respect for patient autonomy, open awareness, holism, mutual respect and collaboration. There is an increasing expectation that the control of pain and other symptoms and the relief of suffering throughout the spectrum of the disease should be included in what health care has to offer. Mixed methods approaches that focus on unraveling the meaning of patients’ varying experiences and perceptions hold promise in providing clinicians with guidance in how to approach the individualization of palliative care interventions.

Mesothelioma is a progressive disease and must be treated with special concern with focus on both the quality of life and supporting the families of the victims. If you or a loved one has suffered mesothelioma or a disease related to exposure to asbestos fibers, contact an asbestos attorney today for a free consultation.