Mesothelioma is a cancer that appears in the lungs’ linings. Experts believe that its main cause is contact with asbestos. There are about 3000 new cases reported every year in the United States. Roughly 8 million people have been exposed to asbestos in the last 50 years. Beginning a few decades ago, safety measures were put in place so that asbestos exposure was at first minimized and eventually will be nonexistent. Because of this, some experts believe that mesothelioma will continue to be prevalent until about 2020, and that thereafter it will begin to decline. By then, asbestos exposure should be quite rare.
As with any cancer, it is imperative that the mesothelioma patient is treated as early as possible for best survival odds. However, those who have mesothelioma are at a disadvantage because of the time factor. In many cases, patients first diagnosed with mesothelioma actually had their exposures 20 to 50 years prior. Because of this, patients are usually over the age of 50. In addition, first symptoms are nebulous and can be attributed to many things, which means that diagnosis is very difficult. Because of this, mesothelioma can be quite advanced once it is detected. There is no fully effective treatment available to cure mesothelioma. However, most experts believe that monotherapy is less effective than combination therapy in treating this disease. Mesothelioma treatments continue to be researched.
Studies focusing on mesothelioma survival rate show dismal results, with a mortality rate of almost 100%. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma survive, on average, six months to two years. However, there are exceptions, which continue to give other mesothelioma patients and their families hope. Patients’ life expectancy depends on many things, including the state of advancement at diagnosis (mesothelioma has four stages), as well as the type of mesothelioma diagnosed. Tissue structures were tested to find the type of cells within, and it was found that sarcomatous cells put the patient’s median survival rate at about 11 months, with 11 months for mixed cells and 12.5 months for epithelial cells.
However, there are other ways to positively influence survival rate if someone has mesothelioma. Approximately 9% of mesothelioma patients survive five years after diagnosis, which shows that there are people who do survive over the long-term with this type of cancer. In some cases, these patients are symptom free. Research continues, so that one day a cure may be found.
If a patient is otherwise healthy at time of diagnosis, then his or her survival rate will be favorably impacted. In addition, if the tumor can be removed fully and is smaller versus larger, this is also going to positively influence survival rate. The amount of fluid in the chest cavity at time of diagnosis is also important. The type of cells present such as was described above is also important. Survival rate is likely to be poor if the cancer has recurred versus whether it has been newly diagnosed.
If you have mesothelioma or a family member does, it’s important to focus on hope. The Internet is a great resource if you find yourself in this situation. You can find groups online with others in the same situation, and support and encouragement with this disease is important. In addition, you’ll be privy to the latest treatments available for the disease. This can make it difficult situation much easier to deal with. And of course, your health care practitioner will also likely have resources he or she can give you.