Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis is heartrending for patients and their loved ones. Even more daunting can be the sad truth that the mesothelioma survival rate is not very long . Research is inconclusive, but evidence leads doctors to believe that on average, patients live between 4 and 11 months after diagnosis.Survival rate statistics concerning mesothelioma can be difficult to understand and handle initially. Become more familiar with current treatment options available. Fill out the form located below to receive a detailed information packet from MesotheliomaSymptoms.com. Although that diagnosis may be hard to hear, with as many as 3,000 annual diagnoses of mesothelioma, more clinical trials and experimental treatments are underway to significantly improve that statistic. According to the American Cancer society, 40% of patients survive longer than a year, and about 10% live longer than 5 years.
One factor that has a significant effect on survival rates is the latency period between initial asbestos exposure and the appearance of symptoms. This time gap ranges from 20 to 50 years, giving mesothelioma a long period to establish itself in the patient’s body. Furthermore, early symptoms of the disease are often confused with those of other ailments. By the time doctors diagnose the symptoms properly, the cancer is often in an advanced stage.
Stages of Mesothelioma
The stage of the cancer also impacts mesothelioma survival rates. Patients whose cancer is in Stage 1 or 2 usually have a greater chance of survival due to the diversity of treatment options available. For example, if the cancer is diagnosed early enough, doctors can sometimes surgically remove the tumor before it spreads any further.
Patients in Stage 3 or 4, however, have a lower chance of survival, as the cancer has often spread to other organs in the body, making treatment much more difficult. Most patients in these stages receive palliative care to lessen their suffering and maintain their quality of life as long as possible.
Because this cancer has such a great latency period, most cases are not diagnosed until the later stages. Nevertheless, early detection remains key regarding surviving with mesothelioma. The medical book Mesothelioma states that patients complaining of breathlessness tend to have a longer survival rate than those reporting pain. This can be attributed to the fact that those with pain tend to have solid tumors rather than just pleural effusions, which are common in those reporting breathlessness.
The type of treatment received is another important factor in mesothelioma survival rates. Patients usually receive some combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. These three options are the only medically accepted treatments used to cure mesothelioma at this time.
However, some patients, especially those in advanced stages of cancer, opt for experimental treatments. Many patients may also elect to volunteer for clinical trials. While there are risks involved with joining a trial, clinical trials do give patients primary access to up-and-coming drugs that may hold a cure for mesothelioma patients.
Additionally, patients may find comfort in alternative and complementary treatments. These regiments include holistic approaches to treating diseases, such as Reiki and yoga. Other approaches include hydrotherapy, pet therapy, or even psychic surgery. These therapies are not used as curative methods but rather are palliative, as they will not cure cancer alone. Often these treatments are used in concurrence with more conventional treatments as a stress relief or pain reducer.
Doctors often treat mesothelioma aggressively when possible, knowing that time is not on the patient’s side.
Type and Location
Another major factor in survival rates is the type and location of the cancer. The type of mesothelioma refers to the type of tissue that is affected by the cancer. Patients with epithelial mesothelioma have higher survival rates than those with other types of the cancer. The most common form, epithelial mesothelioma, makes up about 50% of all cases and typically results in the most positive prognosis.
A second type of this cancer is sarcomatoid mesothelioma; it accounts for 16% of all cases. This tends to be the most aggressive form and typically does not respond well to chemotherapy. This form has also shown early relapse in surgeries.
The third mesothelioma type, biphasic, is actually a combination of the two and comprises about 34% of all cases. Treatment for this subtype is dependent on the percentage of sarcomatoid cells, along with the epithelial variant.
According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, with all these combinations, evidence shows the most favorable prognosis for those under the age of 50 with epithelial mesothelioma and no lymph node involvement.
In addition to the type of mesothelioma, another factor in the mesothelioma survival rate is the location of the tumor. The patient has better chances of survival if the cancer is in the pleura. With pleural mesothelioma, the cancer originates in the inner lining of the lungs. This form is the most common, accounting for 75% of all mesothelioma cases.
When the tumors form in the abdominal lining, the cancer is called peritoneal mesothelioma. This form makes up about 15–20% of all cases. Another form, pericardial mesothelioma, originates in the pericardial lining of the heart. This cancer is rather rare, making up only 5% of all cases. Additionally, there have been reports of testicular mesothelioma. However, it is so rare that only .7% of all cases between 1973 and 1999 were classified as this form of mesothelioma. With the lack of cases involving the testicular tissue, very little is known about treatment, and few studies have been conducted regarding this type of cancer.
Additional Factors Regarding Survival
The overall medical condition of the patient also impacts his or her survival. Younger patients usually fare better than those who are older, often because elderly patients may be battling other diseases or conditions at the same time. However, any patient suffering from other health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, or kidney problems, will see decreased survival rates due to limited treatment options and an overtaxed immune system.
Statistics and data can be extremely discouraging to a patient, but it is important to note that these statistics are purely averages and do not reflect every individual’s situation. According to the American Cancer Society, “These numbers are based on patients treated at least several years ago. Improvements in treatment since then mean that the survival statistics for people now being diagnosed with these cancers may be higher.”