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Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that develops on the linings of the chest, abdomen, heart, or testicles, caused by the inhalation and long-time exposure to the dangerous material, asbestos. Unfortunately, due to the long latency period (10 to 50 years) between asbestos exposure and onset symptoms, mesothelioma typically remains undetected until the cancer has reached an advanced stage.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Type
The life expectancy for patients with mesothelioma differs based on the location of the cancer.
Patients with pleural mesothelioma, cancer of the lung lining, receiving some form of treatment typically live 6 – 12 months after diagnosis. Some treatments, including chemotherapy using specific medications have been linked to slightly longer survival times.
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the linings of the abdomen and is the second most common type of the cancer. The median survival period for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is one year. However, patients who undergo surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have increased their prognosis with a 5-year survival rate as high as 67%.
Pericardial mesothelioma is located in the heart lining and is one of the rarest forms of the disease. This type has a very poor prognosis of about six months, with many cases not properly diagnosed until an autopsy is performed.
Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest of the four types, seen in only 1% of all diagnosed cases. Prognosis for testicular mesothelioma patients is typically 20 – 23 months with a multimodal treatment plan including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
The 5 Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Prognosis
There are five primary factors that doctors consider when determining a prognosis for mesothelioma patients. While these factors can help physicians provide patients with a prognosis, disease progression will still differ on a case-by-case basis.
- Stage – If detected at an early stage, the patient will have more treatment options and a better prognosis than those diagnosed at a later stage.
- Cell Type – There are three main mesothelioma cell types (in order from most to least responsive to treatment): epithelioid, biphasic, and sarcomatoid.
- Location – The average life expectancy varies between mesothelioma types: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.
- Metastasis – Once mesothelioma has spread to other parts of the body, it becomes much harder to remove the cancer or find success in chemotherapy.
- Overall Health – Younger patients typically have a better prognosis than older patients because they are able to withstand side effects from treatment. Additionally, the disease can worsen with the presence of poor overall health or other illnesses.
While some of these factors cannot be changed, patients should make changes in their diet and physical health to help the body heal. Holistic practices including meditation and yoga have been known to help alleviate mental and physical stresses and ultimately, improve life expectancy.
Improving Prognosis Before Diagnosis
Early detection is the best way to improve a prognosis. Researchers have found a way to identify specific biomarkers, or substances, in the blood to detect mesothelioma earlier in life.
If you or a loved one has lived or worked closely to asbestos in the past, no matter how small the exposure, we recommend you seek professional medical advice right away.
Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. Despite this fact, prognosis for the disease is slowly improving over time with the right treatment options for mesothelioma. Treatment for the cancer will typically involve a multimodal approach including surgery and chemotherapy.
Mesothelioma Remission and Recurrence
Some patients have achieved partial or complete remission resulting in long-term survival from the disease. Complete remission, 100% removal of the cancer, is typically possible in patients who have detected the cancer early or utilized more aggressive treatment options.
Recurrence rates can vary depending on certain factors including cell type and previous treatment. It is critical for patients with complete remission to continue monitoring their health and follow up with their medical practitioner to prevent or detect recurrent tumors. Tumors still have a potential of recurring as malignant even after remission.
Treatment for mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases is expensive. Many patients will stop seeking treatment due to costly medical bills that interfere with their ability to pay for other critical bills. Speak to a lawyer about your compensation rights and how an asbestos case settlement can get you the money your family deserves.
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