What is Malignant Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a type of rare cancer that primarily develops from prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma attacks the mesothelium, a protective, two-layered membrane that safeguards a number of internal organs in the human body, including the lungs, the heart and abdomen.
Mesothelioma is directly connected to asbestos exposure. The mineral, when contacted, propels cancerous filaments into the air. These filaments, when perpetually inhaled, stick to the mesothelium. Over time, cancerous tumors form and eat away at the protective lining. The destruction of the mesothelium perpetuates proliferation to vital organs once protected by the membrane.
The majority of mesothelioma cancers develop in the lining of the lungs or the internal wall of the chest cavity. Common symptoms attached to the cancer include: shortness of breath, pleural effusion (build-up of fluids in the pleural cavity (between the abdomen and lungs), severe weight loss and painful coughing.
Mesothelioma is nearly impossible to detect in its early stages. Diagnosing the cancer is exceedingly difficult because mesothelioma is slow-developing and the symptoms are relatively innocuous. Mesothelioma patients will first notice symptoms 20-50following their initial contact to asbestos.
Similar to other cancers, mesothelioma is categorized by stage. As the disease progresses or shifts through stages it becomes more deadly. The stage is directly linked to proliferation; a stage IV mesothelioma diagnosis infers metastasis to several vital organs of the human body. This primary problem associated with the cancer is that it is rarely detected in its early stages. The slow-developing systems and the relatively innocuous cellular structure camouflage the cancer and prevent it from being detected in its infantile stages. As a result, the bulk of mesothelioma patients secure diagnosis when the disease is ruled as inoperable. Mesothelioma patients typically die within 6 months to 1 year of diagnosis.
Mesothelioma comes in three main forms: pericardial, pleural and peritoneum. Pericardium mesothelioma affects the layer of tissue that covers the lungs; peritoneum mesothelioma attacks the peritoneum, which lines the abdominal cavity; and pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of mesothelioma, attacks the pleura, which is a thin membrane of lubricating cells that surrounds the chest wall and lungs.
Because diagnosing mesothelioma is exceedingly difficult, the ability to cure the disease is unrealistic. Mesothelioma cancer, therefore, carries a horrible prognosis. Life expectancy for mesothelioma patients will fluctuate based on several factors, including the patients’ health, the level of proliferation, the type of mesothelioma discovered and the stage at which the cancer was detected.
What is My Life Expectancy with Mesothelioma Cancer?
After receiving a diagnosis for mesothelioma cancer, your doctor will invariably provide you with an initial prognosis (also referred to as your mesothelioma life expectancy). This refers to the period of time that your doctor, based on analysis of your cancer, believes that you will survive. Your mesothelioma life expectancy begins at the moment you are diagnosed with the cancer until the moment you die.
Mesothelioma life expectancy, as stated above, depends on several factors and will vary during the entire period in which you receive mesothelioma treatment. The following represents the factors that have an influence over your mesothelioma life expectancy:
• The stage at which your mesothelioma cancer has evolved to before receiving treatment
• Your response to the applied mesothelioma treatment
• Your lifestyle; the healthier you live the longer your mesothelioma life expectancy will be
• The use of alternative treatments may prolong your mesothelioma life expectancy
• Your vitality; if you have other medical conditions your body may reject mesothelioma treatment, thus shortening your prognosis.
Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy:
Receiving a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma cancer generally means you will pass away soon. The median survival timeframe for pleural mesothelioma patients is six to eight months. This bleak life expectancy is perpetuated by a number of factors, including the fact that the majority of mesothelioma diagnoses are attached to older individuals.
Despite a poor prognosis, many patients can live for up to five years or longer once receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. These individuals typically undergo significant treatments that include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Other factors that may boost a mesothelioma patient’s life include: good health, a universal cell type that comprises the tumor and securing an early diagnosis.
A 2010 study analyzed the mesothelioma life expectancy of 450 pleural mesothelioma patients. These groups of patients were divided based on their types of cell structures that comprised their tumors along with the surgical treatments they opted for. For instance, Pleurectomy, which is a mesothelioma surgery that removes cancerous areas of lung’s lining, was applied to more than half the studied patients. Moreover, a biopsy, which is used to drain fluids and impede future buildups from occurring, was also applied to a number of these individuals.
Though several mesothelioma life expectancy factors, such as latency period and age at diagnosis, cannot be improved, advances in mesothelioma treatment are bolstering life expectancies for the majority of mesothelioma patients. Doctors and other medical professionals that treat mesothelioma are perpetually seeking and experimenting with new methods to bolster mesothelioma prognosis. These prospective mesothelioma treatment options are tested through exhaustive research and clinical trials.
Advancements are also being made to detect and subsequently diagnose the disease during its earlier stages. Early mesothelioma detection enables medical professionals to take more aggressive treatment routes, which in turn, may boost mesothelioma life expectancy.
After receiving treatment, such as surgery, patients typically undergo a subsequent treatment plan, including radiation and/or chemotherapy. Additional mesothelioma treatments typically make a noticeable difference with regards to mesothelioma life expectancy rates. Patients, from the study mentioned above, who opted for surgery with additional treatments subsequent to the operation had a higher chance of living beyond 18 months. Of the 456 mesothelioma patients studied, 28 percent (127) lived 18 months or longer.
The study also proved that some mesothelioma tumors are easier to treat than others. For instance, tumors comprised of uniform cells typically are associated with a bolstered mesothelioma prognosis and longer life expectancy than those in possession of randomized cell structures.
In addition to treatment received and cell type, other factors are associated with mesothelioma life expectancy. Solid overall health contributes to an increased mesothelioma life expectancy following diagnosis. Young patients with better healthy will typically have fewer complications during their mesothelioma treatment, including faster recovery times following mesothelioma surgery.
If pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed in its early stages you will typically have a longer mesothelioma life expectancy. This is because the tumor is localized, which often allows you to benefit from more treatment options. This is rare; however, because symptoms take decades to appear. In fact, only 10 percent of all pleural mesothelioma cases are diagnosed early enough to receive curative mesothelioma surgery. The majority of mesothelioma patients are therefore only eligible for clinical trials or palliative mesothelioma treatment options.
More Information Regarding Mesothelioma Life Expectancy:
Mesothelioma cancer is currently without a cure. The American Cancer Society states that mesothelioma patients typically have a short life expectancy, ranging from 4 to 18 months after diagnosis. Roughly 10% of mesothelioma patients live more than five years following their initial diagnosis. The greatest factor to potentially increase this diminutive time frame is early detection.
Mesothelioma cancer is categorized by the following stages:
Stage I Mesothelioma: In its earliest stage, mesothelioma is localized and typically found in the lining of the lungs, the lining of the sac that protects the heart or in the diaphragm. Patients who are lucky enough to secure a diagnosis in its first stage may qualify for a biopsy to remove the cancer. In the earliest stage a mesothelioma patient may fully recover from the cancer.
Stage II Mesothelioma: This is considered an advanced stage of mesothelioma, for the cancer has proliferated to other areas outside the point of origin. The cancer at this stage may be located in the lining of the chest wall or the lymph nodes. As in the first stage, the cancer may also be located in other areas such as the lining of the lungs, the heart sac or the diaphragm. Surgery may be an option in this stage, but the mesothelioma life expectancy has greatly decreased.
Stage III Mesothelioma: This is the most common stage for mesothelioma diagnosis. During this stage the symptoms will become tangible. In this stage, the cancer has spread to the chest wall, the heart, the lining of the peritoneum, beyond the diaphragm and/or the mediastinum. Stage III mesothelioma has a grim life expectancy; during this stage the cancer has spread to the other side of the chest. Stage III mesothelioma patients will only be eligible for palliative mesothelioma surgeries to ease the associated symptoms and bolster the individual’s quality of life.
Stage IV Mesothelioma: This is the final stage of mesothelioma cancer. Stage IV mesothelioma occurs when the cancer spreads to distant locations in the body. The final stage of the cancer may prove excruciatingly painful for the patient. As a result, palliative surgeries or other non-curable treatment options are typically suggested to improve the patient’s quality of life. Life expectancy during this stage is drastically decreased.