Palliative Care: A Compassionate Approach for Mesothelioma Patients

Palliative Care: A Compassionate Approach for Mesothelioma Patients

Palliative care is a specialized medical approach focused on improving the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses. Palliative care plays a crucial role in supporting individuals with mesothelioma.

Living with Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It poses significant challenges to those diagnosed and their loved ones. The disease affects the lining of the lungs (pleura). But it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and other organs. Mesothelioma has an average survival rate ranging from 8 to 14 months post-diagnosis. Managing the physical, emotional, and practical aspects of this condition is important.

Unlike hospice care, palliative care can be initiated at any point after diagnosis. It usually takes place alongside curative treatments. Hospice care is only typically provided in the final stages of life.

The Role of Palliative Care

The goal of palliative care is to ease symptoms and side effects. It also can manage pain and address the psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients. A team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains, work together to provide holistic support.

While this care does not aim to cure the disease, it can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life. It can help manage many symptoms. These may include such as shortness of breath, pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Palliative care helps patients better cope with their condition and its treatment.

A recent study conducted at The Ottawa Hospital in Canada examined the impact of palliative care on mesothelioma patients. The study included 223 patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2019. It found that while the use of care services increased over time, only 39.8% of patients received palliative care.

The study also found that there was no significant difference in survival between patients who received palliative care and those who did not. These findings suggest that care can manage symptoms and improve quality of life. But, it may not impact the overall survival of mesothelioma patients.

Yet, early integration of palliative care can help reduce suffering. It can also improve symptom control and enhance the well-being of patients and their families.

Palliative care is a valuable and compassionate approach for individuals living with mesothelioma. It provides comprehensive support and addresses the diverse needs of patients. This care enhances the quality of life and ensures dignity and comfort throughout the journey of living with this challenging disease.


Baird, Andrew, Abdullah Nasser, Peter Tanuseputro, Colleen Webber, Paul Wheatley-Price, and Camille Munro. “Involvement of Palliative Care in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Patients and Associations with Survival and End-of-Life Outcomes.” Current Oncology 31, no. 2 (February 2024): 1028–34.

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