New research suggests that, even though pleural mesothelioma is considered a type of lung cancer, people with the asbestos cancer are likely to face some different stresses and concerns from lung cancer patients.
Pleural mesothelioma grows on the pleural membrane that surrounds the lungs. It is almost always caused by past exposure to asbestos dust, often in an industrial setting.
A new analysis of the psychological needs and concerns of people with malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer found that, although the two groups share many concerns, there are also some notable differences.
Evaluating the Psychological Care Needs in Mesothelioma
To conduct their comparison, a team of researchers in the UK searched the medical literature for published studies on the psychological impact of receiving a lung cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis and going through treatment.
The team identified 17 studies that met their criteria. After examining these studies, the team found ten common areas of concern that came up repeatedly among people going through treatment for mesothelioma or lung cancer.
“These were uncertainty, normality, hope/hopelessness, stigma/blame/guilt, family/carer concern, physical symptoms, experience of diagnosis, iatrogenic distress, financial/legal and death and dying,” writes lead study author Hannah Ball, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and researcher with Oxford University Hospitals.
Different Concerns for Mesothelioma Patients
While many of the lung cancer and mesothelioma patients had similar psychological experiences, people with mesothelioma did have some additional worries.
The researchers found that mesothelioma patients differed from lung cancer patients in the areas of blame, financial/legal concerns and feelings of hopelessness.
Mesothelioma is often caused by workplace asbestos exposure. The idea that a trusted employer could have allowed an employee to be exposed to the toxin that caused their cancer, and that that employer may be liable for doing so, can add an extra layer of complexity and stress for mesothelioma patients and their families.
In addition, there is no cure for mesothelioma and the prognosis for most patients is grim. Based on these key differences between the emotional experience of mesothelioma and lung cancer, the study authors say mesothelioma patients may need more specialized support.
“These findings warrant further research to explore further and, if proven, the need for the provision of specialist mesothelioma care services is affirmed,” concludes Ms. Ball.
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Ball, H, et al, “A systematic literature review comparing the psychological care needs of patients with mesothelioma and advanced lung cancer”, December 2016, European Journal of Oncology Nursing, pp. 62-67