Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
For years, mesothelioma, its causes and development remained a medical mystery. But in the last decade or so, researchers, scientists and doctors have begun to make huge strides toward understanding the disease and treating it. Currently, there is no known cure for mesothelioma, which is a rare and deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. Researchers have discovered that the sole link to the development of mesothelioma is through asbestos exposure.
Various industries throughout the 20th century used the naturally-occurring mineral called asbestos because of its ability to be molded into virtually any form and for its heat-resistant properties. Asbestos-containing materials were used to insulate buildings, ships and more. Pipes, boilers, ceiling and floor tiles and much more were all insulated with asbestos in order to prevent fires and keep buildings warm. Although asbestos is not extremely harmful when untouched, once it becomes friable, tiny fibers fill the air. If inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers can eventually lead to mesothelioma or other deadly cancers.
Contributing Factors of a Prognosis
Not every prognosis is going to be the same for all mesothelioma patients. There are a number of different factors that mesothelioma experts take into consideration when determining the life expectancy of any individual. Some of the most common factors considered include:
- Overall health
- Age at diagnosis
- Latency period of symptoms
- Type of mesothelioma
- Stage of the cancer
Age at diagnosis plays a significant role in a patient's life expectancy. For patients age 45 and younger, the probability of making it to the five-year mark is around 39 percent. However, for patients over the age of 75, that number drops to approximately 2.5 percent.
But it is not just age that determines the life expectancy, as the stage of the cancer is also a vital factor to consider. Patients who are in stage one typically get a life expectancy of 365 days. At stage two, that number drops to 142 days and, for those in stages three or four, the life expectancy is about 112 days. The reason the stage makes such a big impact is because of the progression of the cancer. In stages one and two, the cancer remains localized and thus it is easier for doctors to remove the tumor or the part of the organ that is affected and then treat the patient. However, by stages three and four, the cancer has already begun to spread beyond the affected organ and into other parts of the body. This makes it difficult to perform surgery or provide any type of curative treatment.
Treatments and Help for Patients
There are three main types of mesothelioma that patients develop: pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. The type of cancer and the stage a patient is in will determine the type of treatments available. The earlier a patient goes in for an examination, the more treatment options will be available to them. Surgery is possible for patients with all three types of mesothelioma who are in stages one or two. For those in the later stages, doctors will offer palliative treatments like massage or acupuncture since surgery is no longer an option.
If you want to learn more about mesothelioma, the available treatments or for further prognosis information, fill out this form.