A diagnosis of mesothelioma has a huge impact on the lives of the patient and their family. Most research into the condition centres around the physical effects, symptoms, treatments and survival. Such a devastating diagnosis will also have a psychological impact and researchers at the University of Sheffield have been looking at this.
By reviewing over 35 years of medical literature, they have found that the psychological effects of a mesothelioma diagnosis centre around emotions, timelines and communication.
Mesothelioma is rare
Mesothelioma is a rare condition, around 2,500 people in the UK are diagnosed with the cancer each year. Due to its rarity, patients can feel isolated, not knowing where to turn or where they can get information from.
Thankfully, the internet is helping to reduce isolation and information is just a few clicks away. Most areas now have an asbestos support group where patients can meet up with people going through similar experiences and they can share information about treatment and any helpful tips they have come across along their journey.
Symptoms can get rapidly worse
The symptoms of mesothelioma are often common to other conditions and so it can take a while for a definite diagnosis to be made. In many cases, a diagnosis is not made until the condition is at an advanced stage and by this point, the symptoms can get worse very quickly, with patients generally given a life expectancy of around one year. Sadly there is no known cure for mesothelioma yet.
Knowing an estimate of how much time you have left can result in serious psychological issues and this can play a role in whether a patient opts to undergo treatment or not. They have to find the balance between receiving treatment to prolong survival and managing symptoms and side effects to ensure a good quality of life.
Impact on family and friends
Further research is needed to assess the true extent of psychological effect of a mesothelioma diagnosis on the patient. However, we must not forget that family and friends are also affected. Many family members have to become carers, and this can have a huge effect on their relationship.
It is hoped that further research into all aspects of mesothelioma will be conducted to provide mesothelioma patients with the best chance in their fight against this terrible disease.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you have a valid claim for any other asbestos-related disease, then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.
Sherborne, V, et al, “What Are the Psychological Effects of Mesothelioma on Patients and Their Carers? A Scoping Review”, June 28, 2020, Psychooncology, Epub ahead of print, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pon.5454