Asbestos is a dangerous material, and prolonged exposure to it can cause several lung diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Its use was quite common in building materials such as insulation and drywall until researchers discovered its harmful effects. However, the manufacture of some products, such as brake linings and pads, still involve asbestos, but in lower amounts. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, there are some crucial steps that you need to take. Of course, consulting a doctor is the first and most significant one. Let’s delve into why this step holds paramount significance and what you should ask your doctor when getting a consultation.
Consulting a Doctor About Asbestos
In addition to developing a diagnosis and chalking out a treatment plan, talking to a doctor can help determine your risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. Limited exposure to asbestos is typically harmless, both short and long-term. Thus individuals who develop this condition are likely to have been exposed to this material for a considerably more significant amount of time. Asbestos-related diseases take a long term to exhibit symptoms, and most people usually don’t develop signs until ten or more years after exposure. Veterans are typically at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer. That is the reason why mesothelioma navy veterans are a common sight.
Communicating aptly with a doctor regarding your asbestos exposure is critical, as misconstruing symptoms of asbestos-related diseases for other respiratory conditions is a standard medical error. That is why getting a diagnosis after several lung tests, including computerized tomography (CT) scans and chest X-rays, is necessary to chalk out a suitable treatment plan. Once diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, here are some of the questions you should ask your doctor.
1) Do I Need Additional Tests For Diagnosis Or Before Deciding The Treatment Plan?
In some cases, your medical professional might need to perform additional tests to corroborate a diagnosis or determine if a specific treatment option would be right for you. Asking a doctor about this can save time and clear any confusions that you might have.
2) Which Treatment Options Do I Have?
This question is perhaps the most significant to ask your doctor after a diagnosis. Since every case is different, you may require to consult oncologists with a reliable command on treating your specific asbestos-related disease. Some newer courses of treatment, such as immunotherapy, are also underway to become the new standard for mesothelioma patients. Asbestos.com states that according to a January 2022 study, dual immunotherapy checkpoints inhibitors may be soon be considered a new preferred frontline regiment for some cases of malignant mesothelioma patients.
3) What Is The Goal Of My Treatment?
Whichever treatment your doctors suggest for you, you should consider it as some fall under the category of palliative. It means that they have the purpose of managing painful symptoms and enhancing the quality of your life. Such treatments do not aim at curing your disease, and thus it is significant to understand its purpose entirely before consenting to it.
4) Do I Need To Make Changes In My Everyday Life For Treatment?
Different treatment procedures entail different changes: some patients may continue working and carrying out their daily activities as before, whereas others may suffer severe impediments to their daily functioning. Therefore, it is pressing to consult with your doctor before starting a treatment procedure about how the recovery process may affect your daily routine and to what extent you would need to make changes.
5) Will The Treatment Make Me Feel Sick?
It is possible that some treatment procedures may make you feel uncomfortable, weak, or pain. Although treatment procedures aim at addressing the symptoms you exhibit, they may have some side effects. For example, chemotherapy (which helps destroy a tumor or combat cancer) may give you a nauseating and weak feeling. Surgery to remove a part of that tumor (and in turn decrease the chest pressure a patient may feel) can cause bleeding, infection, pain, and soreness at the incision site. Some medications to counteract pain can cause painful side effects, emotional changes, increase irritability, suppress appetite, cause constipation or other digestive complications, etc.
6) What Are My Chances Of Survival?
Doctors can make a prognosis predicting the stage and course of your disease, thereby calculating how it is likely to affect your survival. Although this question is not easy to ask, knowing your prognosis can allow you to plan for your future accordingly and understand your disease better. It is typical for most patients to have a prognosis of a year or even less, but the advent of several innovative treatments prolongs life expectancy. It is crucial to remember that a prognosis is not an accurate prediction of your survival, and most doctors have a hard time narrowing down a time frame.
Asking your doctor the most relevant questions about your disease may not be easy, but it is undoubtedly beneficial. Through this method, you can enhance the quality of your life and eliminate any haunting thoughts that you may have.