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Improving Your Life Expectancy
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Improving Your Life Expectancy

Some of the first concerns that newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients have are about their treatment choices, their life expectancy and the overall survival rates.

While there is no consistent cure for mesothelioma, medical advancements have made the top three conventional treatments – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation– viable for many patients. In some cases, a combination of the conventional treatments, alternative medicines and complementary therapies are used to fight the disease. In other cases, palliative care, which is not aimed at curing mesothelioma, is used.

The Mesothelioma Support Network team understands that it is important to have trustworthy and honest information at your fingertips to plan your treatment.

Conventional Mesothelioma Treatments

Most of the early- and middle-stage mesothelioma treatments include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation or a combination of all three, called multimodal therapy. Typically, patients in the later stages of the disease are only given palliative care options.

    Surgery

  • Used as a first-line defense in the early stages of mesothelioma.
  • Can be used to potentially cure early-stage mesothelioma
  • Not used in the later-stage disease.

    Chemotherapy

  • Often used as a first-line treatment for pleural mesothelioma.
  • Typically used to shrink tumors before a patient undergoes surgery.
  • Often used as a palliative care.

    Radiation

  • Rarely used in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.
  • Used to prevent the recurrence of local tumors, called seeding.
  • Often used as a palliative care.

    Other Treatment Options

  • Immunotherapy, which tricks the patient’s immune system into killing cancerous cells, is growing in popularity as an additional type of conventional treatment.
  • Gene Therapy, which uses genetic materials to kill cancer cells and repair defective genes, is sometimes used as a conventional treatment.
  • Photodynamic Therapy uses light energy to destroy cancer cells. It is not used in advanced stage mesothelioma cases.
  • Clinical Trials are often recommended for patients who hope to advance the opportunity for a mesothelioma cure.
  • In some mesothelioma cases, all of the four main treatments – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy -- are used. In others, chemotherapy and radiation only are used.

A vital component to successful treatment is having the best possible medical team to oversee your case. We can help:

Doctor Match Program – Through this exclusive program, we will not only pair you with a medical specialist with expertise in your type of mesothelioma, but we will also fast track your appointment. This way, you can skip through the typical weeks- and months-long waiting list to see experts in the field.

Paying For Treatment – Many mesothelioma victims don’t realize that there are many options immediately available for financial resources to pay for treatments. We have fully investigated all of the possibilities and can help you decide what is best for you and your family. Our services come with no up-front cost so there’s no risk.

Patient Advocates – Our diverse staff includes veterans, medical experts, attorneys and patients themselves. We understand what you’re going through and can help. When you contact us, you will be getting the highest quality in patient care.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Treatments

In addition to conventional cancer treatments, many doctors recommend that patients seek out alternative and complementary treatments. While they are typically not curative, they encourage relaxation, better nutrition and a whole-body approach to healing.

Alternative and Complementary – What’s the Difference?

In many cases, the words alternative and complementary are used interchangeable when describing mesothelioma treatments that are not the conventional (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation). In fact, there is a difference:

Alternative Therapy

Treatments used in place of conventional treatments.

Complementary Therapy

Treatments used in addition to conventional treatments.

In some cases, CAM treatments, along with conventional treatment, can increase survival rates and the overall prognosis. If you would like to know more about CAM treatments that are available in your area or for other available treatment options, contact our patient advocates today for more information.

Some of the more popular and proven CAM treatments are the most relaxing and comforting:

    Popular and Proven CAM Treatments

  • Massage – This healing touch is known to encourage better circulation and stimulate blood and lymphatic flow.
  • Acupuncture – As one of the most widely used and accepted alternative therapies, acupuncture is known to offer pain and stress relief.
  • TENS Therapy – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation stimulates localized areas of the body and encourages relaxation and pain relief.
  • Yoga and Mediation – These ancient practices are known to ease depression and encourage general health.
  • Nutrition – A healthy diet is known to help in the disease-fighting process.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy, Prognosis and Survival Rates

Each year, up to 3,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Because this disease is known to linger undetected for year, many of those patients are diagnosed in the later stages. But a mesothelioma diagnosis is not an immediate death sentence. Instead, doctors look at a variety of factors when determining individual life expectancy and your overall prognosis:

Factors That Affect Your Prognosis

  • Type of mesothelioma
  • Location and size of the tumors
  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Cigarette smoking

Typically, patients who are younger and generally healthy can fight the disease process better than patients who are unhealthy and smoke. Overall, the American Cancer Society says that the average survival time for those with mesothelioma is between four and 18 months and up to 10 percent of mesothelioma patients live at least five years after their cancer is detected. Just a decade ago, the survival rate was much more dismal.

Today, researchers are fervently working to advance medical technologies and treatment to increase mesothelioma survival rates. At the same time, there are an increasing number of mesothelioma survivors who are sharing their encouraging stories:

Paul Kraus, 52

Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997, Kraus was told he had months to live. Through a regime that includes detoxifying foods, dietary supplements and alternative therapies, Kraus has improved his health.

Kraus continues to live in Australia, more than a decade after his diagnosis.

James Rhio O’Connor, 61

After being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, O’Connor started on a regimen of dietary supplements and improved his diet, among other things. O’Connor died in 2009, seven years after his initial diagnosis.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma does not mean your life is over. It means you need to fight to make your own mesothelioma survivor story. If you are worried or feel alone in your fight, our patient advocates are available now to talk and listen.

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