Understand how hospice cares for patients with mesothelioma and provides them with the utmost physical, emotional, and spiritual care.

Hospice Care and Mesothelioma

by Matt Mauney

Published February 22nd, 2017

Finding hope when facing a terminal cancer, such as mesothelioma, can seem inconceivable.

The average life expectancy for patients with the asbestos-related cancer is less than a year and survival rates decrease significantly with age.

"Hospice can provide compassionate, holistic care from the comfort of home for your loved one with mesothelioma." Tweet

Mesothelioma has no cure. Patients diagnosed in the early stages of the cancer typically stand the best chance at a longer survival and have more treatment options available to them.

Late-stage patients often choose pain relief or palliative treatments, which help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

If you are living with mesothelioma, caring for yourself or relying on a family member or loved one to care for you can be overwhelming for all involved. As the cancer progresses and symptoms intensify, seriously consider enlisting the help of end-of-life care professionals.

Reasons to Consider Hospice Care

Hospice care is an option for many people living with a terminal cancer, generally available for people with a life expectancy of six months or less.

Mesothelioma patients and their families often turn to hospice care when the priority turns from “fighting” the cancer to ensuring the patient is at ease.

This specialized kind of care encompasses the medical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of treatment.

Most hospice care services include an on-call nurse and hospice aides, as well as a physician or medical director. These professionals specialize in compassionate, 24-hour care for patients whose illnesses have stopped responding to treatments.

Choosing hospice care doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It simply means the goal of treatment was changed. The goal of hospice is to make the patient as comfortable as possible, physically and emotionally.

Common components of hospice care include:

  • Physician and nursing services (medication management, pain management techniques, checking vitals, etc.)

  • Medical supplies and equipment

  • Caregiving services (helping with daily tasks like hygienic needs and household chores)

  • Dietary counseling

  • Spiritual support for patients who wish to participate

Hospice care often takes place at home, but it can also be delivered at hospitals, nursing homes and in-patient facilities.

Ways Hospice Can Benefit Mesothelioma Patients

There is no predetermined plan for hospice care. Each plan or scenario is individualized to the patient.

Hospice professionals understand the symptoms and challenges different cancers present and can treat a patient accordingly to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.

For most mesothelioma patients, the respiratory system is heavily affected. Patients often experience difficulty breathing and chronic coughing.

A hospice doctor or nurse will know specific positioning techniques to help patients stand, sit and sleep easier by optimizing airflow.

Digestive issues may make it difficult for mesothelioma patients to intake adequate nutrients and fluids. Hospice care usually includes a dietitian or a dietary expert who can ensure the patient stays hydrated and maintains a healthy diet.

Perhaps the biggest benefit hospice care provides to patients is social and emotional support.

These nurses, doctors and care professionals are trained to be sensitive to a patient’s needs, offering companionship and supportive care. Support groups are often offered to patients and their families, while counseling services are commonly available for family members grieving the death of a loved one.

Matt Mauney is a writer at The Pleural Mesothelioma Center and PleuralMesothelioma.com.

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