Cancer hospitals across the nation provide mesothelioma treatment and services for people diagnosed with this asbestos-related disease. They have specialists – surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and other doctors – who know the intricacies of this complex cancer.
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Picking the right cancer treatment center might be the most important medical decision you can make. Don't take it lightly. Do your homework to find the best fit for you. Or you can lean on us for help, and we'll walk you through it:
Although mesothelioma is a particularly dangerous form of cancer, not all cancer doctors are mesothelioma specialists. And Asbestos.com makes it a priority to maintain a database of thoracic surgeons and other physicians who treat patients who have the various forms of mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis. Our Patient Advocates can help people find the right specialist.Get Help Finding a Doctor
In general, the treatment for mesothelioma is much like the treatment for other cancers – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a combination of the three. Because asbestos cancers are so aggressive, doctors often point patients to emerging treatments and to clinical trials that may lead to cutting-edge treatments. We can help you sort through the various options.Review Treatment Options for Mesothelioma
There's no getting around the fact that treating cancer is costly. Even with the best insurance plans, families can go through a financial crisis to make sure that loved ones get the prescribed treatments that could save lives or buy wanted time with family and friends. Our Patient Advocates can help you navigate the maze of doctor, insurance and treatment center issues and questions that will arise.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial assistance.
The rarity of mesothelioma - only an estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed year - in comparison to many other cancers is what makes a specialist so important. Most doctors rarely see it and don't understand it fully. A specialist does.
Too often with mesothelioma, patients are misdiagnosed initially and begin treatment for a problem they really don't have. Many of the first symptoms of mesothelioma are the same ones that often occur with less-serious illnesses. It's why an individual's history of possible asbestos exposure - the cause of mesothelioma - should be communicated early to a physician who understands it.
Surgeries, chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatments - all part of a multimodality approach - can be different for mesothelioma. The best treatments today for this cancer are specialized and no longer a one-size-fits-all regimen. A decade ago, the prognosis for a mesothelioma patient usually meant six to 12 months to live. The specialized treatment centers today are extending lives beyond that grim prognosis.
There are a growing number of people living for five years or more with the disease. Many of the specialized centers have patients who have lived for 10 years, and still are going strong with specialized proper care. Although no cure has been found, there is a belief that mesothelioma one day will be treated like a chronic illness.
An e-consultation can get you an opinion from a top mesothelioma specialist without having to travel.
A higher percentage of veterans develop mesothelioma than the general public does, making veterans a group in need of treatment centers. Although their military history makes them eligible for treatment at VA hospitals, that doesn't mean there aren't choices to make. The VA has hospitals that specialize in mesothelioma treatment.
The trick is to know that fact. Once in the VA Healthcare system, a veteran can seek treatment anywhere in the country, needing only a referral to receive specialized care.
"The most important thing is, if a patient trusts me, if they believe in me. At the end of the day, we're going to a really big battle together. The stakes are pretty darn high. If you don't believe in the person you're going to battle with, if you're not comfortable with him, then you should go with someone else."
Lebenthal specializes in both mesothelioma and veterans issues. His own military background plays a role in that interest. Because veterans are disproportionately affected - approximately one third of all mesothelioma cases in this country - he has encouraged all veterans with the disease to find him.
The mesothelioma program in Boston often can arrange free or discounted housing. The biggest cost is the travel, for many veterans, but there also are charitable organizations that can help.
"This is not a knock on anyone, but mesothelioma is so complex, and its care so specialized, that a patient really needs the best care in the world," Lebenthal said. "We're in a unique position to offer that."
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