Mesothelioma is terminal cancer, and the prognosis is poor. Approximately 50% of people with this cancer will live a year or more after diagnosis, and only 10% will live at least five years. (NHS.uk). However, there are several factors that affect your mesothelioma life expectancy after diagnosis. Although prognosis is poor, long-term mesothelioma survivors do exist.
How to Determine Mesothelioma Life Expectancy After Diagnosis
The factors that determine your life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis are:
- Type: Mesothelioma is divided into three cell types: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic, also known as mixed type. The most common form of mesothelioma is epithelial and is about 50% of cases. Epithelial mesothelioma has better survival rates than the other types. (org).
- Location: Asbestos cancer is classified by where it is. Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lung and is approximately 75% of all cancer cases. This form of mesothelioma has the best life expectancy. The less common form, peritoneal mesothelioma, develops in the lining of the abdomen, (abdominal mesothelioma) and is much harder to treat. Still even harder to treat are pericardial mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma, but both of those types are rare.
- Stage of the disease: The earlier your diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma, the better your life expectancy will be. Unfortunately, many cancer symptoms mimic symptoms of less serious diseases. Misdiagnosis is common. Mesothelioma is often not diagnosed early enough until it has gotten to stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma. At that point, death usually occurs in months.
- Metastasis: Once your cancer has been diagnosed, oncologists frequently see the cancer has spread from the location of the main tumor. The extent of metastases and the site of the cancer determines the best treatments.
- General patient health: Like most diseases, the patient who is younger and stronger with asbestos cancer will live longer than those who are older and have several health problems. The average age of diagnosis in men is 70, which makes the prognosis poorer. Patients with other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure may have higher risks if surgery is performed to remove tumors. Sicker patients may not tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation. Non-smokers have a better life expectancy than patients who smoke.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy By Stage
For pleural mesothelioma patients, below are the average life expectancy figures by stage: (Drugs.com)
- Stage 1: 21 months
- Stage 2: 19 months
- Stage 3: 16 months
- Stage 4: 12 months
More Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Factors
Approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States annually. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, treatment options are advancing as the cancer is better understood by doctors.
- Mesothelioma survival rates: Most cancer victims survive four to 18 months after diagnosis. But some asbestos cancer victims have live more than 10 years. The current five-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is only five years. While this number sounds low, remember it is higher than a decade ago and much higher than 30 years ago. Treatment and prognosis for mesothelioma is improving as treatment options advance.
- Mesothelioma remission: Few mesothelioma patients experience remission, but some patients can extend survival rates that go beyond expectations with effective treatments early on.
- Mesothelioma survivors: There is no cure for mesothelioma. But many patients are having more success in improving their symptoms by combining traditional treatments with optimal nutrition, body-stress reduction techniques, and palliative therapies. Some cancer patients diagnosed with asbestos cancer have survived years after what was said to be a terminal prognosis with short life expectancy.
How to Improve Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Australian researchers have pinpointed a small molecule that is in larger quantities in the blood of people with mesothelioma than in healthy people. Their research could bring scientists another step closer to being able to diagnose the disease sooner. (Sciencedaily.com)
At this time, most doctors diagnose mesothelioma with a lung biopsy with a small sample of lung tissue. But good tissue samples are not always available. This can make the doctor uncertain about the diagnosis of the patient and result in treatment delays. So far, several proteins have been proposed as blood-based markers for pleural mesothelioma. But none of the biomarker tests are accurate enough for regular clinical use.
In the study, researchers explored whether microRNAs in the blood could be a diagnostic marker for the disease. They also studied the Mesomark assay is a blood test that measures a biomarker that is put out by mesothelioma cells into the blood. The biomarker is called Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptides (SMRP). It can be elevated for years before mesothelioma symptoms appear and you are diagnosed. The possibility of early diagnosis could save lives.
Scientists are also focused on new treatments and drugs to offer hope of a better mesothelioma prognosis. New drugs and procedures that provide more highly targeted radiation to the tumor have enhanced the lifespan of people with asbestos cancer over the last 10 years. Experimental treatments such as gene therapy, immunotherapy, and photodynamic therapy are showing signs of success in treating asbestos cancer.
Patients with pleural mesothelioma generally live a little more than a year, but one out of 10 will live at least five years. Longer term survivors DO exist, so if you have a history of asbestos exposure and you think you may have mesothelioma, speak to your medical care professional immediately. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your prognosis.