When you get a diagnosis of mesothelioma, your life can quickly become overwhelming. But, the good news is that there are treatments available to help people with mesothelioma live longer and better lives than they would without treatment.
Did a mesothelioma specialist diagnose you with mesothelioma likely due to asbestos exposure? Are you wondering about your prognosis?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for individuals who developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases due to asbestos exposure.
Call a Chicago mesothelioma lawyer today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What Is Mesothelioma?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), individuals who developed mesothelioma typically had direct asbestos exposure. In addition, many of these individuals worked in shipyards or construction, or other jobs requiring working with asbestos products.
Asbestos is a mineral that was mined in the early 20th century and hailed for its resistance to heat, fire, water, electrical conductivity, and corrosion. It was also naturally occurring and was mined in localized areas worldwide, primarily in North America.
While asbestos is extremely useful as a building material because of its properties, it can cause serious health problems when individuals who work with it become exposed to fibers from the mineral over time.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the protective membranes that cover many of the body's internal structures. These include the lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, and heart.
The ACS explains that in cases where individuals have mesothelioma, they typically have direct exposure to asbestos in their past. Asbestos exposure has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The Mesothelioma prognosis is largely based on several factors. These factors could include how widespread the disease is in your body when you are diagnosed, your overall health before diagnosis, and how well you respond to mesothelioma treatment.
While there has yet to be a cure developed specifically for mesothelioma, there are treatments available that can often reduce pain caused by the disease, increase your lifespan, and help you live better today.
Four Main Types of Mesothelioma
A mesothelioma specialist can diagnose mesothelioma as one of four different types based on which body membranes are affected. Each has different symptoms, prognosis, and treatment options.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity.
- Pleural mesotheliomaaffects the lining of the lungs. It is typically divided into "Upper Pleural Mesothelioma," which affects the top of the lungs, and "Lower Pleural Mesothelioma," which affects the bottom.
- Pericardial mesotheliomaaffects the heart sac. This mesothelioma occurs when scar tissue forms on the lining of an organ in response to damage from asbestos exposure.
- Testicular Mesotheliomais an extremely rare form of disease affecting males who have been exposed to asbestos earlier in life. Testicular Mesothelioma symptoms are similar to symptoms of other forms of the disease, but the prognosis is better because these individuals tend to be younger when they are diagnosed.
Each of these types of mesothelioma has its unique symptoms, risks, and treatment options. To learn more about how each can specifically affect your life when diagnosed, seek professional medical advice and explore our resources on the different types of mesothelioma.
Many malignant pleural mesothelioma patients diagnosed later in life undergo clinical trials recommended by mesothelioma specialists. Unfortunately, many patients with peritoneal mesothelioma experience aggressive cancer, often not helped by emerging treatments.
In other cases, pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma survivors seek aggressive treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation.
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families can access a directory of mesothelioma specialists and read the latest news and articles on treatment options.
Distant, Localized, and Regional Stages
The National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, also known as SEER, groups mesothelioma survival rates into distant, localized, and regional stages.
The various steps in a person's healthcare journey, from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, are frequently described as phases. This easy-to-use guide distills each pleural mesothelioma stage into three stages: local, regional, and remote.
The four Pleural Mesothelioma Stages are summarized into three: Localized, regional, and distant.
Stage 1 - Localized:
There is no evidence of cancer spreading to nearby tissues or organs at this stage. Therefore, pleural Mesothelioma symptoms may be limited to one area of the chest, such as shortness of breath with exertion or pain in the chest when breathing deeply.
Localized Pleural Mesothelioma is often discovered through imaging tests like x-rays or CAT scans.
Stage 2 -Regional:
These tumors are larger, more advanced, and begin to cause symptoms related to the lungs, neck, and chest lymph nodes.
In addition, these tumors have entered the fluid surrounding the lungs (pleura fluid) and chest wall in some cases.
Stage 3 - Distant:
Mesothelioma cancer has spread to areas far away from the chest, such as the liver or bones. These tumors typically do not cause pain at this stage because they are contained within the outer membrane of the lung (pleura). At this point, however, some mesothelioma symptoms are easily noticeable.
The progression of any cancer can be both physically and emotionally exhausting for patients. As the disease grows, it often becomes difficult to complete daily tasks.
Several resources are available to assist you through this phase, including support groups, rehab programs, private counseling sessions, massage therapy, and other services.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy: How Is Mesothelioma Prognosis Determined?
The prognosis for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma varies depending on several factors.
When you are diagnosed, your age and overall health play a role in prognosis and the types of treatments you choose.
In addition, according to the ACS, your personal prognosis can be affected by how widespread the cancer is when it is discovered and whether or not you have been exposed to asbestos, as well as by your genetic makeup.
According to the ACS, doctors typically consider some factors when predicting mesothelioma life expectancy.
These may include the following:
- The extent of disease at diagnosis
- How fast the disease is moving
- The patient's age and overall health
- Whether or not the cancer is found in its early stages
- The type of mesothelioma treatment
- Options you choose and your response to it
- Average life expectancy and quality of life expectations
Doctors base these factors on their experience and knowledge about Mesothelioma prognosis, including how historical data shows the disease progresses.
Many doctors today prefer not to give patients a specific length of time they can expect to live. Instead, they may only give the patient a percentage of mesothelioma life expectancy.
The prognosis for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma depends on several factors, including the types of treatment options you choose and your response to it.
Each type of mesothelioma has its prognosis, as well as symptoms and treatment options. Explore our resources by selecting your preferred diagnosis from the menu above to learn more about each mesothelioma type and its impact on life when diagnosed.
What Mesothelioma Cell Type Has the Best Life Expectancy?
Epithelial cells have the longest median life expectancy of any cell type, with patients living an average of 81 years owing to their slow growth and excellent response to therapy.
- Sarcomatoid and biphasic: Mesothelioma cells live an average of 49 and 47 years, respectively.
- Familial: These cancers typically develop at a younger age than others, with an average life expectancy of 43 years for pleural cases and 33 years for peritoneal mesothelioma.
- Epithelial mesothelioma, the most common form of the disease, can have a long-term survival rate of 40 years or more.
Can Early Detection Change Mesothelioma Life Expectancy?
Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Once individuals are exposed to asbestos fibers, it can take up to 30 years for cancer to develop. Therefore, it makes early detection essential for a Mesothelioma patient's survival.
Regular screenings can begin as early as age 25 for those who have been exposed to asbestos. The average Mesothelioma life expectancy is around 16 months, but some patients survive as long as five years when aggressively treating mesothelioma.
According to the ACS, early detection of mesothelioma is critical for long-term survival. The five-year relative survival rate for Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma in the early stages is 50 percent—however, the rate drops to five percent when cancer has metastasized.
Mesothelioma life expectancy is dependent upon the type, grade, and stage of mesothelioma. Patients can also influence their prognosis by making lifestyle choices that affect their overall health and well-being.
Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Prognosis Cell Type
While there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, doctors can increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life through treatments that may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or drug therapies.
How widespread the cancer cells are throughout your body depends on your prognosis and the types of treatments you choose.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are specific factors affecting mesothelioma prognosis cell type.
These factors include:
- Age: Most patients with mesothelioma are over the age of 50. At diagnosis, those under the age of 40 have a worse prognosis than those who developed mesothelioma later in life. Overall, about two-thirds of all patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are over the age of 65.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop mesothelioma than women. According to research, men exposed to asbestos and who developed malignant mesothelioma have a worse prognosis than women who receive the same diagnosis. The average life expectancy for men with mesothelioma is four months, but some may live as long as 16 months.
- Grade of Mesothelioma: The grade of mesothelioma is directly related to prognosis and is based on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope. Low-grade is less aggressive and has a better prognosis than high-grade, carrying a more pessimistic outlook. An average life expectancy of more than 20 years can be expected for low-grade mesothelioma compared to only three months with high-grade disease.
- Location of Mesothelioma: Where the Mesothelioma cells are found impacts prognosis as well. Malignant mesothelioma, which affects the lung lining, typically has a worse prognosis than peritoneal, which affects the abdominal lining.
- Stage of Mesothelioma: Staging is used to determine how widespread cancer has spread throughout your body. Staging can also affect prognosis and survival statistics and help doctors determine the most appropriate course of treatment for you. For example, according to the University of Florida research, stage 1 Mesothelioma has a three-year survival rate of around 50 percent compared to only 10 percent for those diagnosed with stage 4 malignant mesothelioma.
Other factors that can affect the prognosis for people with mesothelioma include the following:
- Health status before diagnosis
- Whether or not you were exposed to asbestos
- Treatment history and response to treatment
- Complications during or after treatment
The prognosis is generally worse for those diagnosed with mesothelioma at a younger age and those with other health conditions. However, several factors can influence each individual's risk level, so it's important to work closely with top mesothelioma doctors to understand all of your options and what they mean for you.
What Should I Do If I Have Mesothelioma?
According to the CDC, smoking is a known risk factor for developing lung cancer or other diseases related to exposure to asbestos, asbestosis, or mesothelioma.
Therefore, the ACS recommends that those diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease quit smoking immediately to improve their chances of a successful mesothelioma prognosis.
Mesothelioma treatment usually includes a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, recent research has shown that high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant and radiation therapy may effectively treat mesothelioma.
Other ongoing research focuses on finding ways to use the body's immune system to fight cancer cells in people diagnosed with mesothelioma.
There are several ongoing clinical trials in the United States studying new drugs and drug combinations to treat mesothelioma.
Some focus on targeted therapies, such as Bexxar (tositumomab), which the FDA recently approved to combine chemotherapy agents for advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Researchers are also studying if experimental vaccines and gene therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of mesothelioma.
The Mesothelioma prognosis is largely based on the stage of the disease at diagnosis, with earlier stages being more amenable to treatment and having a better outcome.
Because of this, it is important to seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know has symptoms of mesothelioma.
Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Pleural mesothelioma patients who undergo surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) may have a better prognosis than those who receive chemotherapy alone. In HIPEC, heated chemotherapeutic agents are delivered directly to the peritoneal cavity, improving drug delivery and enhancing cytoreduction.
The prognosis for mesothelioma is challenging to determine as mesothelioma can be very different from one person to the next. A mesothelioma prognosis is based on several factors, including the cancer stage at diagnosis and individual characteristics.
Some people with mesothelioma have lived several years, even after their cancer has spread throughout the body. Some people who undergo aggressive treatments have a long life expectancy and a more favorable prognosis when diagnosed early.
The prognosis for mesothelioma patients can be different depending on what stage of their disease. Therefore, it is important to work closely with your mesothelioma doctor during diagnosis and treatment, as well as throughout any remission periods, so that you can obtain the best possible prognosis.
The prognosis for malignant Mesothelioma survivors has improved in recent years due to more effective treatments and earlier diagnoses. However, even with the most effective treatments, a small percentage of cancer patients diagnosed with mesothelioma will experience a relapse.
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis Involving Remission and Survival Rates
After an initial prognosis, peritoneal mesothelioma patients may experience a complete or partial remission that can last several years.
For most patients with newly diagnosed peritoneal mesothelioma, the median survival rate is fifteen months. However, some patients have survived for more than five years following diagnosis.
The Mesothelioma prognosis is poor for a pleural mesothelioma survivor compared to other cancers because it tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage. In most cases, the disease is incurable and fatal, especially with mesothelioma recurrence. However, some Mesothelioma patients have survived for several years following diagnosis.
In a 2011 study of more than 5,000 cancer survivors over 65, researchers found that the five-year mesothelioma survival rate affects the patient's life expectancy.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), symptoms of mesothelioma may include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and fever.
The NIH also cautions that there are sometimes no symptoms in the early stages of mesothelioma. It is why it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider if you have had significant asbestos exposure to determine if you should undergo yearly screening for mesothelioma.
Other types of cancer that are sometimes related to exposure to asbestos include cancers of the stomach and larynx and other respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Be proactive about your health if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma; the earlier you get help, your chances of living longer are better. For example, if you smoke, stop - and if possible, try to get lung screenings to detect any irregularities early.
If you or someone you know is at risk for exposure to asbestos fibers, avoid potential exposure by using caution around building materials that may contain asbestos; ask city officials about safe removal if you live in an older home.
Mesothelioma prognosis is largely dependent on the stage of cancer at diagnosis, with earlier stages being more treatable and having a better outcome; it is important to get medical attention immediately if you or someone you know has symptoms of mesothelioma.
Personal Injury Attorneys Representing Mesothelioma Patients Seeking Financial Compensation
Did a mesothelioma specialist diagnose your medical condition of peritoneal, pleural, testicular, or pericardial mesothelioma? Are you seeking financial compensation to cover your treatment costs and provide for your family?
Call our law offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to speak with a patient advocate concerning a monetary recovery of your damages during a free mesothelioma consultation. We can answer all of your common questions about mesothelioma.
Our law office accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury award.