Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
When you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, one of the first pieces of information you may want to know is your life expectancy. Often, doctors may give you the worst-case scenario regarding mesothelioma -- it’s a fast-moving disease that is often deadly. While this is true in many cases, there are several situations that will extend the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients and allow them to live happier, more satisfying lives with the disease.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and there is no cure. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope. Today, scientists and researchers are working diligently to ensure all cancer patients have a fighting chance. They are creating new procedures, medications and technology that give all patients the opportunity to fight mesothelioma on new levels. In addition, patients themselves have been taking more active roles in fighting the disease and changing their outcomes.
What are Some Things That Affect my Diagnosis?
Mesothelioma is a disease that moves slowly through the body. Often, at the first sign of the disease, patients are misdiagnosed. That means it takes a long time for most patients to get an accurate diagnosis and a start treatment. Doctors say that mesothelioma life expectancies range from four months to 18 months, depending on certain factors. There are elements to this disease that can change mesothelioma life expectancies:
- Stage of the Disease - A cancer stage is the stepwise progress of the disease, from stage I being localized to stage IV as the advanced spread of the disease. As in all cancers, mesothelioma that is in stage IV is the most difficult to treat.
- Type of Mesothelioma - There are four types of mesothelioma but only two of them -- pleural (lung) and pericardial (heart) -- are considered more common. Of those two, pleural mesothelioma is considered more treatable. That’s because it is difficult to treat the cancer around the heart without causing life-threatening injuries. In addition, the types of cells that form the cancer are an important element to treating mesothelioma. Epithelial mesothelioma cells are the most common and treatable.
- Disease Latency - In effect, this is how long the disease has been in your body. The longer the disease has had to linger inside your body, the worse it will be. In the earlier cases of mesothelioma in the early 20th century, mesothelioma was known to take up to 50 years to develop. But today, with the tragedies at the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina, mesothelioma is developing more quickly, perhaps from more intense and ongoing exposure.
- Gender, Age and Race: What is most surprising to mesothelioma victims is that the disease is choosy. While it does harm women, they seem to have better outcomes than men. While younger men do develop mesothelioma, it mostly injures older men. And while it does harm all races, white men have a higher incidence.
Even if you or a loved one has already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are steps you can take to make changes in your future. Decades ago, mesothelioma was a sure death sentence. Today, there are many people who have been living with the disease, exceeding medical expectations. Australian Paul Kraus, for example, has been living with mesothelioma for decades. He has taken proactive steps, from extreme changes to his diet to altering his outlook on life. Of course, Kraus’s results are individualized, but they do show that mesothelioma is not the death sentence it once was.
Most doctors are eager to help mesothelioma patients change their future. In addition to standard treatment, which includes chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, it is also important to seek out clinical trials and scientific experiments. These allow patients to be first to use new therapies and drugs that could offer a cure for mesothelioma.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malignant Mesothelioma. Retrieved from http://www2a.cdc.gov/drds/WorldReportData/FigureTableDetailsArchive.asp?FigureTableID=891&GroupRefNumber=T07-01
Inai, Kouki. “Pathology of Mesothlioma. National Institute of Health. 2008. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2698271/