You were exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma. Now, you want to know what to expect. While you have done some research on your own, the questions that remain are endless.The Mesothelioma Support Network is here to help answer those concerns to take some of the fear out of your future.
Knowing what the disease is and how to deal with it as it progresses is powerful. The prognosis is different for individual patients, so the more you know, the better able you will be to handle whatever this disease throws at you.
What Is A Typical Prognosis?
The earlier a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the better prognosis they can expect. The prognosis and treatments recommended are based on a patient’s age, sex, asbestos exposure and the specific cells that are involved. When the cancer is detected early, the prognosis is typically more favorable because it may not have spread, so the body will be more receptive to varying treatments and surgeries. Also, those under age 45 often have a better prognosis – about 20 percent of patients included in an American Cancer Society study from that age group survived for more than five years.
For those diagnosed with pleural, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma, the prognosis can take varying turns. Up to 60 percent of all cases are pleural mesothelioma, which has a typical survival rate of five years following diagnosis. That tends to be the most optimistic diagnosis for this cancer. On average, someone suffering from mesothelioma has about a one-year survival rate.
People experiencing shortness of breath or chest pains may have a poorer prognosis because those symptoms can indicate that the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
Factors that Affect Your Prognosis
Mesothelioma histology affects a prognosis, so it can be important in a treatment regimen. Mesothelioma histology is the study of various types of cells connected to the disease. By studying those cells, a doctor can better determine a course of treatment.
Also, the size and location of tumors can affect a prognosis. Patients whose tumors are surgically removed typically have a better prognosis than those whose tumors have spread to other parts of the body.
Those who have been exposed to asbestos should alert their doctor, which can help in early detection of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
Improving Your Prognosis
While most doctors begin treatment of mesothelioma with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, there are also less traditional alternative treatments being used and being widely touted by mesothelioma survivors. Some doctors practice what is called Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM, combined with conventional medicine. This integrative medicine has no promise for a cure, but in some cases has subdued the pain and suffering associated with mesothelioma. In certain cases, it has been shown to improve survival rates. Various plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, herbal teas and amino acids like those used for centuries by ancient cultures are sometimes used as a supplemental treatment for mesothelioma.
Experimental therapies, like immunotherapy, show progress for the future. Also, researchers and scientists are constantly seeking out and testing new types of drugs and innovating new therapies as they search for a cure.