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Palliative Care for Advanced Malignant Mesothelioma

Since malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that can take decades to develop, this type of asbestos cancer is almost always diagnosed at advanced stages, which limits mesothelioma treatment options. Palliative care as a mesothelioma treatment is becoming standard, whether as the primary treatment or as an addition to other treatments. Victims of asbestos exposure should know that palliative care is an option, and discuss these choices with their doctor. Planning ahead and integrating palliative care at the early stages of disease can ease the pressure on patients and their families during this difficult time.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care as a mesothelioma treatment is designed to evaluate and treat the pain and symptoms of mesothelioma. It does not treat the cancer itself, but focuses on the patient and the quality of life. Since palliative care can be combined with other standard mesothelioma treatment options such as radiation therapy and surgery, it is very flexible and can occur in many settings, including:

  • in hospitals
  • as part of community groups
  • at home
  • in hospices

A patient’s palliative care team will designate a coordinator to coordinate the patient’s mesothelioma treatment between the patient’s hospital, physicians, family, and palliative care center to help the patient fight mesothelioma for as long as possible. This also allows all caregivers involved to keep current with all aspects of the patient’s care.

What Happens in Palliative Care? 

Incorporating palliative care into the treatment of mesothelioma is growing into a specialty for the unique needs of mesothelioma victims. Because patients diagnosed with mesothelioma may have limited life expectancy, palliative care should be discussed as an early mesothelioma treatment option. The first step in beginning palliative care is meeting with a palliative care coordinator. Patients are usually encouraged to bring loved ones to this meeting, so that an outline for palliative mesothelioma treatment can be designed around the needs of the patient and the caregivers. The meeting will be used to discuss:

  • an assessment of the patient's background, including medical history
  • an assessment of needs
  • an outline of expectations
  • suggested routines for treatment (sometimes referred to as the "care plan")
  • coordination of counseling and/or therapy
  • an outline of the goals of palliative care

Benefits of Palliative Care

Although standard mesothelioma treatment includes some aspects of palliative care, such as the goal of reducing pain, with palliative care the care team can focus on these types of goals while the patient’s primary physician and oncologist focus on fighting the disease. Recent studies have shown that this approach can add to a patient’s life expectancy while improving quality of life.

Palliative care can also assist the patient and their family in coping with the consequences of mesothelioma. The goal of palliative care as a mesothelioma treatment is to prevent and ease suffering for the family and the patient, which can include therapy and counseling in addition to medication and physical assistance. Victims of mesothelioma and their families can find comfort in palliative mesothelioma treatment. Palliative care makes the process of fighting mesothelioma as easy as possible for patients and their families while improving quality of life for the time that remains after diagnosis.

Does Insurance Cover Palliative Care?

Many private insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) offer palliative care benefits. Medicare, which is mostly offered for people 65 and older, will cover hospice benefits but only the extra Medicare plan (Part B) offers some palliative care benefits. Medicaid coverage palliative care for people of limited incomes varies by state.  

The unfortunate reality is that no mesothelioma treatment offers a cure, and palliative care is often the best option for relief that victims of asbestos exposure receive.  If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, make sure the companies that allowed the asbestos exposure are held responsible. Contact the Law Offices of Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason at 415-332-4262 for a free consultation and learn about your rights to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the companies who manufactured the products that caused your illness.  Settlements from verdicts and asbestos bankruptcy trusts can take care of the financial burden caused by mesothelioma.