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Can I Travel if I Have Mesothelioma?


Flying when you are ill can increase your risk of getting sick. While airplanes have strict guidelines for air filtration, you are still sitting very close to other passengers, some of whom could be sick, potentially passing their sickness.

Commonly resulting from asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is a type of cancer in the lung. It can cause problems for people wanting to travel who need to weigh the risks associated with being around so many other travelers. If you plan to travel for the holidays to see family or to get medical treatment, knowing the risks is important.

If you are undergoing mesothelioma treatment, ask your doctor first about whether you should fly. Airlines do not have restrictions on your ability to fly. However, you could be putting yourself at increased risk, depending on the treatment you are receiving and how that treatment affects your immune system.

Being in the air could also be a concern if you need prompt medical attention. Even if the pilot decides to make an emergency landing to get you medical care, the nearest airport with a nearby medical facility could be hundreds of miles away, costing you precious time. Above all, this is a decision you should make with your family and your doctor.

Cabin Pressure

Airplanes are pressurized to keep the cabin at a reasonable pressure where humans can breathe easily. Most aircraft are pressurized to around the equivalent of 8,000 feet in altitude, although some newer aircraft are pressurized even closer to sea level, making the experience more pleasant for passengers.

However, people suffering from mesothelioma could be at risk of breathing issues when the cabin pressure changes. The higher the altitude, the less oxygen that is available to passengers. As a mesothelioma patient, you may need higher levels of oxygen than other passengers and sitting in a pressurized cabin at 8,000 feet might not provide you with adequate oxygen levels. Decreased levels of oxygen could cause extreme fatigue, blood clots, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Cabin Humidity

Along with being pressurized, airplane cabins have decreased humidity levels. If you get a stuffy feeling when you fly, this is exactly why. However, lower levels of humidity can irritate your throat and lungs. It can also leave you feeling dehydrated. Drinking a lot of water before, during, and after your flight will help combat this feeling.

While airplanes have good air filtration systems, you are more at risk than the average passenger. Depending on the type of mesothelioma treatment you are receiving at the time of your flight, your treatment could be suppressing your immune system, making it more likely that you will catch a cold or something worse. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk, but this is a decision that you should discuss with your doctor before traveling.

Gate Crowding

Before a flight, passengers often crowd around the gate even before boarding begins. Once one person lines up, the rest seemingly follow. Avoid these situations as much as possible. The longer you can stay away from other people, the better it is for you.

Isolate yourself as much as possible. You will not be able to do so on the flight itself, but as people line up around the gate, stay seated and let everyone else get on board. If you board last, you will also spend less time on the plane and in close proximity to the other passengers.

Flight Duration

Another concern for mesothelioma patients who are traveling by air is the length of time you are on the plane. A short trip from Philadelphia to Boston, for example, is different from a flight between Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

The longer you are in a pressurized cabin around other passengers, the more likely it is that you will inhale particles that could make you sick. Keeping your travel to short flights can help to keep you healthy during your mesothelioma treatment.


Where you are going is also a concern for mesothelioma patients. If you are traveling for pleasure to a remote location and a medical issue arises, you will need to make sure that you have quick access to medical professionals and facilities who can handle your condition.

Going to a remote location can be a fun trip, but you need to weigh the pros and cons. If you do have a medical issue arise while on your trip, your insurance may not cover you and you may have to fork over astronomical sums to cover your medical expenses. While you should not avoid travel altogether, you need to weigh these risks and plan in advance for the worst-case scenario.

Time of Travel

The timing of your flight as it relates to your treatment is also a factor. You may have recently had surgery to remove a tumor or had intense medical treatment. If that is the case, your best bet is to stay home, rest, and avoid travel for at least a couple of weeks. After major surgery, your body is more likely to experience medical issues as it begins to heal.

Discuss your travel plans with your doctor. Before you travel, your doctor can run tests to determine the strength of your lungs and your immune system. Having this information and getting specific guidance from your doctor can be vital to ensuring that you have a safe and uneventful trip.

How Can I Stay Safe if I Have to Travel?

If you must travel, there are steps you can take to stay safe. Above all, speak with your doctor and develop a plan for staying safe while flying.

Wear a Mask

When you are being treated for mesothelioma, you are more susceptible to catching a cold or virus than most other people. Your medical treatment may suppress your immune system. To combat this, you can wear a mask.

Wearing a mask while on the plane is crucial to keeping foreign particles out of your airways. However, wearing a mask before you board the plane can help as well. You will come into contact with many people from checking bags to security lines. Having a layer of protection will help keep you safe.

Wash Hands

Washing your hands is a great way to keep germs away. You should also avoid touching your face, especially if you have not washed your hands.

Keeping your hands clean will help you prevent the transmission of virus particles into your body. Since your immune system is compromised, taking this step can give you extra protection to help keep you free from illness.

Stay Hydrated

While wearing a mask on the plane can make it harder to eat or drink anything, pull your mask down for a few seconds to take some sips of water. Drinking water constantly throughout your flight will help keep you hydrated.

Also make sure you drink enough water well before your flight. The lack of humidity on board will counteract any water you drink while flying, so starting your hydration routine before you get on the plane is crucial.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Can Provide Skilled Legal Representation

If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may be frustrated and unsure of what comes next. It is important to know that you have legal options. Speak with one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler today. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.