The suspicions of your doctor that you may have mesothelioma can be a crushing blow for you and your entire family. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is seldom diagnosed until it is quite advanced. The results of such a diagnosis are rarely good, and you will likely have many impossible decisions to make as time goes by.
For many North Carolina residents, facing these challenges is overwhelming, and it is easy to let fear and confusion overtake you. However, the more you know about what to expect, the less likely the uncertainty will hinder you from seeking the most positive outcome.
To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will send you for a biopsy. During the procedure, a specialist will remove a sample of tissue or fluid from the affected area, such as your lungs or abdomen, using a needle or surgical procedure. The sample will undergo analysis to determine whether it is malignant mesothelioma.
With a confirmation, the next step is for doctors to ascertain how far the cancer has progressed. You may have to undergo any combination of MRI, PET scan or CT scan. If your cancer is stage I or II, it is still localized. Stage III or IV means it has spread and may be more difficult to treat.
If you are in the early stages of mesothelioma, doctors may be able to remove the cancer to prevent it from spreading. However, this is not usually the outcome. Most of the time, mesothelioma is discovered after it has been aggressively spreading in your body for decades following exposure to asbestos. In such cases, you and your family will have to explore your options and decide what your goals will be.
For some, this means undergoing every treatment option available to try to fight the disease. This may include:
For others, going through the exhausting and expensive treatments is not their choice. They prefer to accept whatever help is available to remain comfortable during the time they have remaining. No matter if you decide to seek treatment or palliative care, you will want to prepare yourself and your family for the future and take whatever steps you can to make sure your loved ones are well provided for.