Getting a Second Opinion on Mesothelioma

4 Min Read

2 soldiers on a boat

Learning About the Unknown

Before you retired from the Army, Navy or other branch of the U.S. military, you might not have known what mesothelioma was. In some cases, you may have seen an advertisement on TV from a mesothelioma law firm, but still didn't know if mesothelioma could affect you.

It can be tempting to think that your chances of getting mesothelioma are small. However, veterans are at a very high risk of developing mesothelioma. This is because the U.S. government used asbestos in many ships, bases, vehicles and other assets for decades.

So, you found something else to occupy your mind during those TV ads. And if you are a veteran having been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may think that all of a sudden, there are all these ads popping up.

But, they were always there, because thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. You just weren’t paying attention because, despite the fact that you knew you were exposed to asbestos, you never thought you would get cancer from it.

However, you shouldn't blame yourself. None of the general public knew that asbestos would cause cancer. But in reality, companies that sold asbestos-based products knew the dangers that lurked in their product. They knew for decades and kept quiet to make a profit.

Then your whole world came crashing down on you when your doctor informed you that you had a cancer caused by asbestos. They may have said that you aren’t a surgical candidate and that there is little they can do for you, except perhaps chemotherapy.

You probably didn’t hear a thing the doctor said after that. You just got told you were going to die and there wasn’t anything your doctor or anyone else could do about it.

If this happened to you, you need to know that you are not alone.

In fact, most veterans that we talk to say that this is almost exactly what most doctors say at first. The problem is that it there are other options. Many who were told that there was little that could be done had successful surgery despite what their local doctor first told them.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  A second opinion from a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma can extend—or even save—your life.

Why the Confusion?

Sadly, many patients trust the word of general practitioners and never get access to important treatments. Though it's easy to put the blame on doctors who are hungry for money, the problem could simply be ignorance.

The fact is many non-mesothelioma doctors just don’t know much about the disease. Some simply aren’t willing to admit to their patients that they are ignorant about mesothelioma and the available treatment options. Even oncologists, or doctors who specialize in cancer, may not have the right tools needed to treat mesothelioma.

In truth, there are many mesothelioma specialists that can give you a more accurate diagnosis. Mesothelioma specialists have years or decades of experience specifically treating this rare form of cancer.

While a regular doctor can be helpful early on, they could do more harm than good if they misdiagnose you or say there are no treatments available. The truth is that there are treatments available for all stages of mesothelioma.

A Grain of Salt

Though local doctors or general oncologists can be helpful, mesothelioma is a complex disease. If your local doctor says your mesothelioma is untreatable, take that info a grain of salt and consult an expert.

This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you have a strong relationship with your local doctor. But consider this: If you owned a Maserati and took it to a Ford dealership, and the mechanic there told you your car was broken and couldn’t be fixed, what would you do? You would likely take your car to a Maserati mechanic.

Sure, the mechanic at Ford knows a whole lot more about cars than you do, but he doesn’t deal with a specialized automobile like a Maserati. The same can be said for doctors. They know a lot about disease, but mesothelioma requires an expert to properly treat it.

The problem is that many of us assume than an oncologist (a cancer doctor after all) must be an expert at your type of cancer, and therefore will know what they are talking about. In fact, they may have not know about all the treatment options available.

We've had plenty of vets tell us that they saw a thoracic surgeon who is very well known and respected. And that he is head of the thoracic surgery department at his hospital. But does the surgeon specialized in mesothelioma or is a general surgeon? Are they a Maserati mechanic or a Ford mechanic?

What You Need to Know

Since the start of this site, our team has helped thousands of veterans with mesothelioma connect with doctors, nurses, assistants and lawyers to get care specifically based on their needs. We are advocates for both medical and VA benefits, and can help you get the right care, right now.

We happy to assist you in filing a VA Disability or Pension claim. We can also help you get Aid & Attendance or housebound benefits. Every one of these benefits is about putting money in your pocket and safeguarding your future.

However, bad advice from doctors who aren't mesothelioma experts can end your future. That's why it is vital to get a second opinion by an expert—especially if someone tells you there is no hope. There is always hope, because new treatments are being tested every day.

If you don’t know how to find a mesothelioma specialist, call or email us today.

It’s the least we can do for the brave men and women who served our country.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.