The Importance of Psychological Care for Mesothelioma Patients

Recent studies suggest that 25% to 50% of cancer patients are suffering from psychological conditions related to their diagnosis. However new information casts serious doubt on the ability of oncologists to properly diagnose patients who may be suffering from common cancer-related ailments like anxiety or depression.

In a 2001 study conducted in England, oncologists failed to recognize symptoms of depression and anxiety in some patients while misdiagnosing it in others.

The study involved 3,000 patients at cancer centers around the United Kingdom. Each was asked to fill out a 12 question health survey to gauge their probability for psychological illness before seeing their oncologist. Their physicians knew the patients were taking the test but their results were not revealed.

After seeing each patient, doctors were asked to rate the patient’s mental condition. The result was that doctors were incorrect more than 800 times.

It concluded that the misdiagnosis of psychological symptoms was systemic within the global cancer community and that doctors across the globe are under prepared to assess patients’ psychological states.

They found doctors often dismiss symptoms as being cancer related or surface level problems. Most researchers conclude that medical curriculum must begin to teach doctors how to recognize patient mentalities and what questions to ask.

Psychological Conditions and Cancer Patients

One of the major problems in cancer treatment is patients who have psychological conditions like anxiety or depression. Those conditions can hurt a patient by interfering with their ability to comprehend information on medication, lifestyle changes, and maintain motivation.

Depression is a common problem for patients who suffer the asbestos-related cancer malignant mesothelioma. The condition itself is terminal and when combined with outside factors (saying goodbye to family, arranging possible legal compensation, setting funeral arrangements) it can quickly lead to depression. In some cases it can manifest itself physically and detract from the patient’s already short life expectancy.

Signs to Look Out For:


  • Persistent sadness almost every day for most of the day
  • Loss of appetite or overeating, developing significant weight loss or gain
  • Loss of interest in once desirable activities
  • Insomnia or oversleeping (not related to treatment exhaustion)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, attempting to commit suicide
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Restlessness, lack of energy, constant fatigue

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Denial of obvious tension or anxiety
  • Appearing tense
  • Difficulty solving basic problems
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Getting angry easily

If four or more of these symptoms are persistent in the patient and we recommend consulting with a health care professional as they can complicate treatment. Remember, the best medicine for your loved one is support and companionship because both you and your loved one need each other during this difficult time.

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