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3 Tips for Finding the Right Doctor for Your Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks the lining of the body’s internal organs. The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, although other factors such as smoking may increase the risk of developing the disease. Unfortunately, many cases of mesothelioma resulted from the wide use of asbestos in industries such as ship building, metal works and chemical manufacturing. Before the dangers of asbestos became widely known, thousands of workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos, often with no protection whatsoever.

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is undoubtedly devastating. However, finding the right doctor to treat the disease definitely increases the chances of survival. While each case is unique, there are some common tips that may be useful to a broad variety of patients.

DISCLAIMER: This article describes general circumstances concerning the treatment of mesothelioma. It is not intended to provide medical opinion or medical advice. Please consult with a physician concerning specific questions you may have.

The Right Specialty

Like many cancers, mesothelioma affects different areas of the body. The three major types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity and pericardial
Mesothelioma attacks the lining of the heart. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common, followed by peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is much less common.

You should also ask about the doctor’s specialized treatment approach. Thoracic oncologists focus on treating mesothelioma that affects the lungs, chest, esophagus and abdominal cavity. Radiation oncologists emphasize radiation treatment that is designed to slow the growth of the cancer, especially pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Medical oncologists focus on research as well as treatment, and may be more likely to suggest treatments conducted as part of a clinical trial.

Regardless of your doctor’s specialty, he or she should be aware of emerging treatments such as immunotherapy, which uses a patient’s own immune system to fight disease. Seek a doctor who is open to complimentary treatments, such as massage therapy and acupuncture that can increase the effectiveness of conventional treatments. Some patients even achieve remission at least in part due to alternative treatments.

Extent of Experience

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer. Many physicians, even those with extensive experience treating other forms of cancer, may have no experience with treating mesothelioma. Seek mesothelioma specialists with extensive experience treating the type of mesothelioma that you have been diagnosed with. Many specialists are affiliated with established mesothelioma treatment centers, such as the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York or the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Harvard University Medical Center in Boston.

Compatible Treatment Style

Communication between doctor and patient is an essential element of treating any serious disease, and mesothelioma is no exception. Seek a physician with whom you feel comfortable asking questions. Your physician should provide information in a way that allows you to empower yourself in developing and following a treatment plan of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the three.

For Further Reading

• American Cancer Society: Malignant Mesothelioma
cancer.org/cancer/malignantmesothelioma/detailedguide/malignant-mesothelioma-diagnosed
• Asbestos.com: Mesothelioma Treatment Options 
asbestos.com/treatment/
• Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center: Mesothelioma 
maacenter.org/
• Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center: Mesothelioma Treatment
maacenter.org/mesothelioma/treatment/
• Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center: Mesothelioma Doctors
maacenter.org/mesothelioma/doctors/

Joe Belluck is a mesothelioma researcher and freelance writer. He has been researching the techniques of various mesothelioma doctors. He has been extensively reporting his findings to natural health blogs.