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Questions to Ask About Malignant Mesothelioma

It’s important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. You should ask any question, no matter how small it might seem.

Here are some questions you can use to help better understand mesothelioma and your treatment options. Don’t be afraid to take notes and tell the doctors or nurses when you don’t understand what they’re saying. You might want to bring another person with you and have them take notes to help you remember what was said.

When you're told you have mesothelioma

  • What kind of mesothelioma do I have?
  • Where is the cancer? Has my cancer spread beyond where it started?
  • What's the stage (extent) of the cancer, and what does that mean?
  • Do I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Do I need to see any other types of doctors?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • Should I get a second opinion ? How do I do that?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Do you think my cancer can be removed by surgery?
  • Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?
  • What is the goal of treatment?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • How soon do I need to start treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • What risks or side effects are there to the treatments you suggest? Is there anything we can do to reduce side effects?
  • How will treatment affect my daily activities? Can I still work?
  • What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer recurs?

During treatment

Once treatment starts, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply to you, but asking the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Will I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Can I exercise during treatment? If so, what kind of exercise should I do, and how often?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?
  • Will I need special tests, such as imaging scans or blood tests? How often?

After treatment

  • What type of follow-up might I need after treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • How often will I need follow-up exams, blood tests, or imaging tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer comes back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?

Be sure to write down questions of your own. For instance, you might want to ask about nearby or online support groups where you can talk with other people going through similar situations. Or you may want to ask if you qualify for any clinical trials.

Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: November 16, 2018

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