Mesothelioma is cancer that develops in the protective lining surrounding organs such as the lungs and heart. Cancer develops from prolonged exposure to asbestos microfibrils found in home equipment, construction materials, automobile parts, and military equipment. However, since the mineral’s cancerous nature was discovered, its usage in everyday household items has been essentially banned.
Most mesothelioma cases are diagnosed several years since signs and symptoms take around two decades to become prominent. This means cancer has already reached a terminal stage. At this point, treatment is mainly designed to improve affected patients’ remaining quality of life.
Hence a mesothelioma diagnosis can be challenging to come to terms with. If you want to know more about the types, survival rates, and treatment options, here’s what you need to know:
Types of Mesothelioma
There are four main types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular.
1. Pleural mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which affects the lining of the lungs and their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Early detection through imaging tests and a biopsy can reveal the extent of the disease. Depending on the stages of this disease, patients can choose from several treatment options to manage symptoms and improve the remaining quality of life.
2. Peritoneal mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by inhaling and ingesting asbestos fibers, affecting the lining of the abdomen. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, swelling, and weight loss might be misdiagnosed as something else, but if you have a history of asbestos exposure, you must see a doctor if these symptoms arise. Although peritoneal mesothelioma can be challenging, treatment is more manageable than pleural mesothelioma.
3. Pericardial mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining protecting the heart and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, and a fast heartbeat may be mistaken for other conditions, so it’s essential to be aware, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.
4. Testicular mesothelioma
Testicular mesothelioma develops in the testicles and is relatively rarer than other cancer variants. Symptoms include pain or swelling in the testicles, a mass or lump in the scrotum, or discomfort in the lower abdomen.
The impact of mesothelioma on life expectancy
The impact of mesothelioma on life expectancy is significant because of its aggressive nature. However, the survival rate for mesothelioma patients depends on various factors, including the stage of the disease, patient age and health, and the type of treatment received.
Stage of the disease
Arguably, the most crucial factor influencing life expectancy in mesothelioma patients is the stage of the disease. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the prognosis is likely to be. There are different stages of this disease, and depending on what stage it is diagnosed, patients may be eligible for more aggressive treatment options, such as surgery, which can extend life expectancy.
Mesothelioma is more common in adults than in young people. Most patients are men with prior work experience in the construction, military and automotive industries. The average age of the initial diagnosis is 72 years. Older patients and those with underlying health conditions may have difficulty tolerating the aggressiveness of the disease and treatment, which can affect their overall prognosis and survival rate.
Type of treatment received.
In recent years, many advances have been made in treating mesothelioma, including developing new chemotherapy drugs and using radiation therapy. These treatments can help to extend life expectancy for some patients. Still, they can also have side effects impacting overall well-being.
Type of mesothelioma
The life expectancy for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is generally higher than those with pleural mesothelioma. This is partly because peritoneal mesothelioma is often more localized and can be surgically removed more easily than pleural mesothelioma. The same goes for other variants found near the heart and reproductive systems.
Possible treatment options for mesothelioma patients
Treatment depends on the stage and location of cancer and the patient’s overall health. However, a thorough treatment plan after a diagnosis can help determine how long mesothelioma patients live. Here are some of the possible treatment options for mesothelioma patients:
- Surgery: Depending on the stage of cancer and the location, surgical options may include pleurectomy or decortication, extrapleural pneumonectomy, and cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment aims to harness the body’s immune system to fight mesothelioma by stimulating the immune system or blocking proteins that cancer cells use to avoid detection.
- Targeted therapy involves using drugs that target specific genetic mutations that drive the growth of mesothelioma cells.
Mesothelioma specialists will recommend the best approach for each patient based on their case.
Precautionary measures a mesothelioma patient should take
Since mesothelioma is a terminal illness and treatment can only help manage symptoms, patients must take steps to maintain their health and well-being. Here are some preventive measures that mesothelioma patients should consider:
- Avoid asbestos exposure: If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s essential to avoid further asbestos exposure, as this can worsen your condition and increase the risk of complications.
- Get regular checkups: Regular checkups with your doctor are essential to monitor your health and any changes in your condition. This helps identify and address any issues early on.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help improve your overall health and support your body’s natural healing processes.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve your physical and mental well-being and boost your immune system. However, talking to your doctor about what type and amount of exercise are safe for you is essential.
- Manage stress: Stress weakens the immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off illness. Try to find ways to manage stress, such as meditation and mindfulness.
- Get plenty of rest: Enough sleep is crucial for your body to restore itself during aggressive cancer treatments.
- Quit smoking: If you smoke, quitting is one of the most important steps to improve your health and reduce your risk of additional health complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there any hope for mesothelioma patients to beat the odds and live longer?
Yes, with the right treatment plan and support, mesothelioma patients can surpass the average post-diagnosis life expectancy of 12 to 21 months and live a longer and more fulfilling life.
- Are there any treatments available to completely cure mesothelioma?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma. However, treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can help to relieve symptoms and prolong life.
- How does the stage of mesothelioma impact a patient’s life expectancy?
The stage of mesothelioma, or how advanced the disease is, can significantly impact a patient’s life expectancy. Patients with early-stage mesothelioma generally have a better prognosis and a longer life expectancy than those with advanced-stage cancer.
- Can changes to lifestyle and diet help extend the life of mesothelioma patients?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet can help mesothelioma patients feel better and cope with their condition. Eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress, and avoiding harmful substances can improve quality of life and extend life expectancy.
- Are there any cutting-edge treatments available for mesothelioma patients?
Several experimental mesothelioma treatments are promising, including immunotherapy, gene therapy, and photodynamic therapy. While these treatments are still in the early stages of development, they offer hope for improving the future life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.
Conclusion on How Long Does Mesothelioma Patients Live
Answering the question: of how long mesothelioma patients live is not straightforward. The survival rate for mesothelioma patients depends on numerous factors, including the stage of the disease, patient age and health, type of mesothelioma, and the kind of treatment received. Still, the average age of patients diagnosed with this terminal illness is 72.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection and advances in treatment options have improved the prognosis and extended the survival rate for some patients. However, it’s essential to remember that every mesothelioma case is unique and to work closely with a medical professional to understand the specific outlook for one’s situation.