Mesothelioma is a deadly and frightening cancer that affects the lives of more than 2,000 new individuals each year in the U.S. alone. The survival rate of individuals diagnosed with any form of mesothelioma cancer other than a localized, early-stage form, remains poor. There are a number of factors involved in determining the life expectancy of mesothelioma cancer patients, and every patient has a unique case. Because medical professionals are constantly searching for advances in treatment options and ways to increase the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients, the life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is likely to be better today than it was five years ago.
For mesothelioma cancer patients, the median life expectancy – that is, the high point on a bell curve – is 4 to 18 months. However, an individual patient’s case has much more to consider. Some patients may end up surviving mesothelioma for a longer period of time, while others may have a shorter lifespan following diagnosis.
Many Mesothelioma Cases Have Been Missed
In the U.S., the survival rate for mesothelioma patients has been studied for only about the past 20 years, although people have been contracting mesothelioma since at least the turn of the century. A fundamental problem with estimating the mesothelioma survival rate is that for most of the 20th century, mesothelioma was very frequently missed as the cause of death. Another problem that has hindered the gathering of data that could have been used to more accurately determine mesothelioma survival rates is the number of cases previously misdiagnosed as a different type of cancer.
Five-Year Mesothelioma Survival Rate: Nine Percent
Most statistics for cancer survival focus on the percentage of patients who survive for one, two, three, four, and five years after their diagnosis. The same is true when determining mesothelioma survival rates. For example, the overall five-year survival rate for patients with mesothelioma diagnosed between 1998 and 2002 was about nine percent; that is, of all of the patients identified as having been diagnosed with mesothelioma during that period, about nine out of 100 lived for five more years.
Data describing survival rates are simply averages that are drawn from large patient populations and cannot be used to predict how long a particular mesothelioma patient will live. Perhaps more important are the many factors that strongly influence how long a patient with cancer will survive. The factors that affect the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients include:
- The stage of the mesothelioma – that is, how advanced it is.
- The types of mesothelioma – peritoneal, pleural, or pericardial.
- The size of the tumor or spread of tumor cells.
- Whether the mesothelioma is newly diagnosed or has returned.
- Whether the mesothelioma is localized or advanced (spreading).
- The age, general health, and medical history of the patient.
- What types of treatment are feasible for the patient.
Stages of Mesothelioma Cancer – Stage 4,3,2,1
The stages of mesothelioma cancer are an important indicator of how long a patient can expect to live. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer during its early stages often resemble those of other common ailments such as bronchitis and pneumonia, many mesothelioma patients are misdiagnosed. Often, by the time it is discovered, the patients are in the throes of advanced mesothelioma stages. Life expectancy at this point may be shorter due the difficulty of treating the cancer when it is in its more advanced stages.
Although a cure for mesothelioma cancer has not yet been discovered, there are various mesothelioma treatment options available to help improve a person’s mesothelioma prognosis. Life expectancy – particularly for someone who received early stage diagnosis – may be extended with the right treatment.
The Butchart System is the oldest and most commonly used mesothelioma cancer staging system. Its measurement of the mesothelioma stages is primarily based on the extent of the tumor mass. Butchart System divides mesothelioma into four stages:
- Stage I – Mesothelioma cancer is seen in the right or left side of the chest area, or pleura cavity, and may also be found in the diaphragm. Also known as Stage 1.
- Stage II – Mesothelioma cancer has invaded the chest lining and reaches the esophagus, heart, or pleura on both sides. Lymph nodes may also be affected. Also know as Stage 2.
- Stage III – Mesothelioma cancer has passed the diaphragm and entered the abdominal cavity or peritoneum. Lymph nodes beyond the chest may also be affected. Also known as Stage 3.
- Stage IV – Mesothelioma cancer has spread through the bloodstream to other organs. At this stage, it is metastatic mesothelioma. Also known as Stage 4.
If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos and would like more information regarding testing for early stages of mesothelioma, contact us at Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today.
Early Detection, Aggressive Mesothelioma Treatment
Some studies have indicated that among patients whose mesothelioma is revealed early and treated aggressively, about half will have a life expectancy of two years, and one-fifth will have a life expectancy of five years. Among patients whose mesothelioma is advanced, only five percent can expect to live another five years. This means that early stage detection increases your chances of surviving mesothelioma for longer than if it is detected in its later stages.
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Get Examined, Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The importance of diagnosing mesothelioma cancer early cannot be overemphasized. If you worked with asbestos at some point in your life, or if you were exposed to a significant amount of asbestos in a non-work setting, you should see a physician about the possibility of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases now, even if you have not had any symptoms. If you wait until you are experiencing the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer, you’re missing a chance to catch the disease early, which may improve your asbestos mesothelioma life expectancy. If you’ve already been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, be sure to ask your physician about all possible treatment options.
Get Legal Help from Asbestos Attorneys
After you get medical help, the next most important thing you can do is speak with an experienced mesothelioma attorney regarding your legal options. Due to your exposure to asbestos you may be eligible for financial compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and emotional pain and suffering caused by your illness. An attorney who has experience with mesothelioma cases can help. Contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today to schedule your private consultation with a mesothelioma attorney in your area. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, including your predicted mesothelioma life expectancy after diagnosis, and will help you to fight for the justice that you deserve and the compensation your family will need.
More Information about Mesothelioma Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or would like to learn more about asbestos-related diseases, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today.