A mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can affect the lungs, liver, or stomach. The causing reasons include asbestos exposure and usually only found in people who have had exposure for long periods like those working with insulation on ships or buildings from before 1980-the 1990s. The cases are often fatal within weeks but manageable if caught early enough!
Mesothelioma kills more than 10% of its victims quickly after diagnosis because it spreads rapidly throughout your body – this means you’ll need immediate treatment as soon as possible once diagnosed, so don’t wait until things get worse!
It could be deadly and affect cells lining organs such as your lungs or stomach because it spreads to other parts of your body through lymph nodes. It can also cause lung problems, including shortness of breath and coughing up blood when not appropriately treated.
Not only is it rare, but it’s also hard to bounce back from. However, it is essential to understand the type of mesothelioma you have and how it impacts your life. There are four different areas that these cancer cells can attack. As you learn about them, you get an idea of which one has a better survival rate. Although, coming back to live a fulfilling life is an unrealistic expectation. Most cases of mesothelioma get diagnosed late. By the time the doctor tells you about your diagnosis, it’s too late.
Here’s what survival with mesothelioma looks like:
1. What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor caused due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Asbestos can cause the cells to divide abnormally in the linings of vital organs. The two most common causes of mesothelioma are the lungs and the stomach. They are called pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, respectively. A more rare form of mesothelioma is of the heart and testicular. Medically they are called pericardium mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma. After diagnosis, the life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is 12 months. However, doctors try different methods to elevate life expectancy. They subject a patient to chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation to try and change the outcome. However, most of the efforts may go in vain.
2. What Are Mesothelioma Survival Chances?
It is an aggressive form of cancer. It is hard to predict that you’ll make it out of it. While early detection can help to some extent, most cases are far too complicated to treat. According to 2015 numbers published by Translational Oncology, they studied two of the common causes of mesothelioma. If a patient has pleural mesothelioma, the chances of survival for the next year is 73%. While in peritoneal mesothelioma, the chances of survival are 92%. However, the rate drops within three years to 23% for pleural and 74% for peritoneal. The results infer that patients with early detection may have a chance to survive. However, there is a better success rate for peritoneal than pleural. Pleural mesothelioma may claim the patient’s life within a year.
3. What Factors Contribute To These Statistics?
Numerous factors inform a doctor how lethal the mesothelioma has become. Using the data they get from physically evaluating your body, doctors can give you an idea of your life expectancy. Here are some factors that contribute to these statistics:
- Location of the Tumor. Doctors need to know where the tumor is and how it will hinder the organ’s functions. Tumors are obstructions, as they deteriorate the organ and prevent it from working at full capacity. When an organ is unable to function, it dies, which can lead to death.
- Stage of Mesothelioma. The stages depict how much the tumor has spread. Pleural mesothelioma is often known while it is in the advanced stages. Catching cancer so late makes survival hard. In most cases, the patient may only have a year to live. The early stages are always best with cancer. The tumor cells are in one location and haven’t spread too far. Stage one mesothelioma has a life expectancy of twenty-one months. In contrast, stage two has a life expectancy of nineteen months, and the third has sixteen months. Stage four is only for a year.
- Age of the Patient. Older patients have a hard time surviving. Their bodies, including metabolism, are significantly slower. Their immune system cannot keep up with the demands of aggressive diseases. Younger patients have a better chance of survival. Their bodies can withstand the conditions and help them go through chemotherapy. There are also fewer chances of relapse with younger patients.
- Type of Mesothelioma Cell. Mesothelioma’s aggressiveness comes from the cells. Epithelioid cells are the most common cells with the slightest hostility; aggressiveness refers to how fast they spread. Patients with epithelioid cells survive from 12 to 24 months. Sarcomatoid cells spread instantly. A patient with these cells only has six to eight months to live. Biphasic tumors are a combination of two cells, epithelioid and sarcomatoid. If there are more epithelioid than sarcomatoid, then the chances of survival are high. However, if there are more sarcomatoid than epithelioid, the chances of survival are low. On a broad scale, patients with biphasic tumors survive about 13 months.
- Overall Health of the Patient. If the patient is already struggling with numerous health problems, it complicates the case. Suppose an older patient with a healthy body comes down with mesothelioma. They have a window of opportunity to live. A younger immunocompromised patient has no chance. The same applies if the patient is older with multiple health problems. Their life expectancy is almost nil. Younger patients with a fit body and health have a good chance of increasing their life expectancy.
4. How Do Doctors Treat Mesothelioma?
Doctors will use the same treatment route as any cancer case. However, the treatment route depends on how fast the cancer cells are spreading. If the issue is already out of control, no treatment can rescue. If the cells are in one area, they can administer the following:
- Chemotherapy. These are drugs administered to a patient through an IV. A session can take up to 4 hours. The purpose of chemo is to kill cancer cells. However, since it’s a potent drug, patients experience many unpleasant side effects. They vomit, lose weight, and even appetite.
- Radiation. The purpose of administering radiation is to kill cancer cells. Doctors use radiation as a source of relief. However, patients who undergo radiation therapy get another round of side effects. These include skin itching, blistering, or getting damaged.
- Surgery. If the cancer is only in one location, the doctor can do surgery. Surgery involves removing a part of the tissue concentrated with cancer cells. The remaining cells get cleared off with radiation. The incisions are quite deep and leave behind scarring. Surgery is also painful and takes a while to recover.
- Clinical Trials. Trials are drugs under investigation. These drugs are still fresh and under research. However, they have some authorization for usage. That means no hospital will push your clinical trials unless it’s safe to use for your disease. With limited data, they want to know if the drug can help elevate your condition. Since these drugs are under investigation, there is a chance they may work out.
Mesothelioma is lethal: While you may harbor some hope that you’ll bounce back from it, research suggests otherwise. Unlike most cancers, doctors diagnose mesothelioma late. By the time it is known, cancer has already spread and affects vital organs. If critical organs get obstructed, then coming back from that is hard. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer.
Many factors make mesothelioma a very complex cancer. The tumor’s location, stages of the disease, patient’s age, and overall health are all contributing factors. No matter how hard doctors try to administer care, it is hard to have a positive life expectancy.