Prognosis is used to describe the possible outcome of a diagnosed disease and seeks to determine how long the patient is expected to survive and the quality of his/her life during this period. The prognosis for mesothelioma is unfortunately extremely poor due to the fact that is a 'long latency period' cancer and generally goes undiagnosed until its symptoms start showing in the advanced stages of the disease, when it is too late to stop it from spreading. This is true for all forms of mesothelioma from pleural mesothelioma (attacking the lungs) to peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen-related) to pericardial mesothelioma (affecting the heart). The median survival duration for mesothelioma affected patients is between five and 18 months.
There are multiple factors that determine the prognosis of a mesothelioma patient. These include his/her demographics, overall health and lifestyle habits, the form of mesothelioma he/she has been affected by, the location and size of the tumor, the stage at which the cancer has been diagnosed and the treatment options available to him/her. A large number of research studies and clinical trials are being conducted worldwide to discover new ways treating mesothelioma. Though they are still in the developmental stage, these studies have shown encouraging results and offer the hope of a more positive prognosis in future.
Here are some factors that are known to have a significant impact on an individual's prognosis.
The prognosis of a mesothelioma patient is largely dependent on the stage at which the disease is diagnosed. Mesothelioma's long latency period makes it virtually impossible to detect it in the earlier stages. This results in poor prognosis due to the fact that the cancerous cells have most likely spread to other parts and curative treatment is no longer an option. In the advanced stages of mesothelioma, the affected body parts become weak and are unable to sustain stressful treatment methods. If diagnosed at an earlier stage, mesothelioma patients can expect a more favorable prognosis owing to a larger number of curative treatment options.
Overall Health and Habits of Patient
Mesothelioma patients who smoke, drink excessively and lead an unhealthy lifestyle generally have a more negative prognosis than non-smokers and people who live a healthy lifestyle. This can be attributed to the fact that regular smokers have weaker lungs and immune systems that cannot endure aggressive mesothelioma treatment methods. The post-diagnosis lifestyle of a patient can also contribute to a positive prognosis. Patients who eat healthy, rest well and practice alternate healing techniques (like meditation, massage, yoga) to relax the mind and body have better survival rates.
Patient's Age and Gender
It has been observed that about 75% of all mesothelioma cases have affected men above the age of 55. Women are found to have a more favorable prognosis than men where mesothelioma is concerned. Patients below the age of 55 are also more receptive to treatment due to the fact that they have reasonably healthy bodies which can withstand stressful therapies.