Mesothelioma and Palliative Care: Improving Quality of Life

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was once commonly used in building materials. Unfortunately, many people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago are now developing mesothelioma, which has a poor prognosis and limited treatment options.

Understanding Palliative Care

Palliative care is a type of medical care that is focused on relieving the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. It is often provided alongside curative treatments, but can also be offered as the primary form of care for patients with advanced or terminal illnesses. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care, which is specifically designed for people who are nearing the end of life and no longer pursuing curative treatments.

One of the key goals of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. This can involve the management of physical symptoms like pain, nausea, and fatigue, as well as addressing emotional and spiritual concerns. Palliative care teams may include doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and other specialists who work together to provide holistic care that meets the unique needs of each patient.

The Benefits of Palliative Care for Mesothelioma Patients

For mesothelioma patients, palliative care can offer many benefits. Since there is no known cure for mesothelioma, the focus of treatment is typically on symptom control and maintaining quality of life. Palliative care can provide specialized support for patients as they navigate treatment decisions, manage side effects of treatment, and address the challenges of living with a serious illness. This can include:

  • Comprehensive symptom management: Palliative care specialists can work with mesothelioma patients to address a range of symptoms, such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and anxiety. By managing these symptoms, patients can feel more comfortable and better able to enjoy their daily activities.
  • Emotional support: Mesothelioma can be a stressful and emotionally challenging illness for both patients and their loved ones. Palliative care teams can provide counseling, support groups, and other resources to help patients and families cope with these challenges.
  • Advance care planning: With the help of palliative care specialists, mesothelioma patients can make informed decisions about their care as their illness progresses. This can involve discussing goals of care, exploring treatment options, and creating an advance care plan that reflects their wishes and values.

How to Access Palliative Care for Mesothelioma

Palliative care can be provided in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and in the home. Mesothelioma patients and their families can ask their healthcare providers for a referral to a palliative care team or seek out palliative care services on their own. Some palliative care programs may be covered by insurance, while others may require out-of-pocket expenses.

It's important for mesothelioma patients to understand that palliative care is not the same as giving up on treatment. Instead, palliative care can be integrated into a patient's overall treatment plan to improve their quality of life and provide support throughout their illness.


Mesothelioma is a devastating illness that can have a significant impact on a patient's quality of life. Palliative care offers a way to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of mesothelioma patients and their families, even in the absence of a cure. By seeking out palliative care services, mesothelioma patients can improve their overall well-being and find comfort and support during a difficult time.