Symptoms During Final Stages of Mesothelioma Near Death
Once a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, commonly asked questions are about the length of the final stages of this disease near death. Most cases of mesothelioma ultimately do end with premature death of the patient. There also are many physical complaints that accompany the progression of mesothelioma, such as fatigue, chest pain, fever and other late stage symptoms.
To determine the stage of growth and spread of pleural mesothelioma, there is a TNM staging system that was created by the American Join Committee on Cancer (AJCC) to help doctors describe the problem and scope of damage done by this disease. In this system, the “T” relates the extent to which the primary tumor has spread. The “N” indicates how far the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The “M” represents if the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other body organs, such as the lungs, peritoneum or pleura on the other side of the body. Based on TNM results, the doctor will assign a staging status to the patient, as Stage I, II, III, or IV.
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The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural, which is the only form that utilizes this established staging system used for assessing severity and forecasting life expectancy. There are four stages of progression in pleural mesothelioma, with Stage 4 (IV) being considered fatal. Prior to this stage of advancement of the disease, some remedies such as surgical removal of the cancers may be able to extend lifespan expectancy. The biggest problem with final stages of mesothelioma near death is that the cancer cells may migrate to other tissues and organs in the body, leaving some cells hidden and unavailable for removal by surgery.
One concern of patients and their families is the length of time for continued survival. At all four stages, general life expectancy is reduced severely, from 21 months to 12 months, more or less. These are average survival times; individual patients may have less or more time, depending on their unique circumstances. The best prognoses occur when the disease is discovered early and when the patient is younger. Females tend to fare better, as do persons who are in better general physical health.
Lifespan Expectancy Estimates
People facing the final stages of mesothelioma near death have many questions about this disease, including how long the lifespan expectancy estimate might be at each stage. Normal life expectancy in the U.S. is approximately 78 years. When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, their life expectancy is shortened. For younger patients, this reduction is greater than for older patients. An international study, conducted in 2013, shows this disease reduces life expectancy in the best cases by about 17 years. As the disease progresses, the lifespan expectation time decreases, from about 21 months at the beginning Stage I, to about 12 months at the final Stage 4 near death.
Other factors enter into the potential lifespan expectation for persons afflicted with mesothelioma. Most people who are diagnosed with this disease are already over age 65, although some patients are age 50 or younger. This occurs, in part, because it takes so many years for the disease to progress to a point where it may be detected and diagnosed. In many cases, it has been several decades since the patient was exposed to elements, such as asbestos fibers, that cause mesothelioma cancer. Internally, this disease can spread around the body, making treatment or surgery an even more difficult challenge.
Other things, such as lifestyle and environment, also may affect how long a person diagnosed with mesothelioma can expect to live. Research has determined several major influences on lifespan expectancy for patients with mesothelioma: overall health, age and gender, and the type of cancer cell along with the stage of development at time of diagnosis. Early detection is a critical element in achieving a longer lifespan with this disease. If you suspect you have had any exposure to asbestos or other materials that could generate this type of cancer, take action immediately for best results. As mesothelioma cancer develops, it also spreads to other organs beyond the lungs and pleural lining. It may become difficult to find and impossible to remove surgically.
Palliative Care Treatments
Surgery offers the best possible outcome and opportunity to extend lifespan in patients suffering from mesothelioma. At the same time, palliative care treatments are available to help the patient deal with pain and be more comfortable. These are an alternative treatment when surgical procedures are not an option, as is the case with final Stage 4 mesothelioma. At all stages of this disease, patients are encouraged to take good care of their health, to eat well and stay active, because these actions aid in recovery from surgery and chemotherapy treatments. Being healthier is one way to extend lifespan at every stage.
At later stages, palliative care treatments are useful for lessening suffering and to help patients maintain a better quality of life. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can help to slow tumor growth and size, which also can reduce suffering, especially in cases where surgery is not an option. Symptoms that occur in stage 4 mesothelioma are severe, and palliative care can be very beneficial to patients. Relief can be sought through palliative care treatments to combat fever, night sweats, chest pain, breathing problems such as shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the chest or abdomen, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, malaise and anorexia.
Performance Status & Life Expectancy
In the assessment of life expectancy in the final stages of mesothelioma near death, doctors consider a group of performance factors. Based on the patient’s abilities, a status level would be calculated. The performance status figures are determined according to three primary areas of activity. Oncologists use a scoring system to determine their patient’s overall health and staging status. Performance status assesses the patient’s ability to tend to basic self care and to perform routine physical activities. Doctors may use a variety of scoring systems to then give the patient a grade of performance status.
The ECOG Scale of Performance Status is a popular system developed by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG). This system provides a method for scoring results on a scale from zero to five. A person who scores at zero is fully active, while those with higher numbers have increasing levels of disability, with five being the worst outcome. Lower scores are earned by persons who exhibit better overall health. They live longer than others suffering from mesothelioma whose results show a ranking of higher scores.
Typical correlations between performance status and lifespan expectancy were shown in a study from the late 1980s and 90s. Survival expectations for those with a performance score of zero were 11 months. Those with a score of 1 had survival rates of 7.6 months, and those with a score of 3 averaged 3.3 months. The primary finding from these studies was that people recover quicker from cancer surgery and chemotherapy treatments when they stayed as active as possible and maintained better health by eating well. The more aggressive treatments like surgery and chemotherapy were most effective when used at early stages of mesothelioma. Doctors use performance status to determine the most effective steps to take in caring for their patients effectively.
Factors That Affect Lifespan
While surgery and palliative care treatments including chemotherapy and radiation do affect lifespan, there are numerous other factors that also impact patient life expectancy and comfort. Longer survival times have been seen in patients who scored a good performance status, and those who are younger, female, and patients that have normal levels of LDH in the blood. Normal red and white blood cell and platelet counts also contribute to longer lifespan. If the cancer is an epithelioid subtype, patients lived longer, as did those who did not have chest pain or show a significant weight loss.
In general, all patients who suffer from mesothelioma will have a shortened life span, and those who are in final stages near death have the least optimistic prognosis for survival time. Despite this, whatever time is achieved can be made more enjoyable and comfortable if the patient strives to stay as healthy and as active as possible throughout their ordeal. How long a person has left to live while in the final stages of mesothelioma near death is always a serious concern for the patient and their family. Once the doctors indicate that the disease has reached the Stage 4 (IV) level, time is very limited. It still is important for all to remember that even with this diagnosis, many patients do survive longer than predicted.
Each year, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a situation that has encouraged the medical community to continue to conduct clinical trials and offer experimental treatments. The American Cancer society claims that even with the dim outlook, 40% of patients live longer than 12 months, and about 10% will survive longer than 5 years. Early diagnosis and treatment is one way to enhance prospects for lifespan expectation.
Mesothelioma Compensation is Available
Individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and the surviving spouses and dependents of those who have died from deadly cancer have access to a range of legal options depending upon the circumstances of their case. Our lawyers have extensive experience in these difficult but ultimately rewarding cases. We recommend that you contact us right away so we can learn the details of your asbestos case.
To schedule a consultation with an experienced mesothelioma attorney, please contact us today at 800-352-0871 or fill out our online form.