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Life Expectancy

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Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma is a rare and severe type of cancer that develops after a toxic carcinogen called asbestos enters the body through either ingestion or inhalation. There are two most common types of mesothelioma connected with asbestos: peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma. The former affects the lining of the abdominal cavity, and the latter affects the lining of the lungs. Both types of the disease are generally considered terminal, but mesothelioma and life expectancy may be affected by a number of contingencies.

Mesothelioma life expectancy is the statistical number of years of life an individual has left when they reach a certain age. It usually refers to the number of whole years. Life expectancy can be influenced by many factors such as gender and lifestyle.

What is the Mesothelioma Life Expectancy for Patients?

Although no one can calculate how long an individual’s life expectancy is, there are some general observations based on the percentages of patients. Currently, the average life expectancy for a diagnosis of mesothelioma patients is between six to 18 months. The currently available therapies do impact life expectancy in some patients depending on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. Some patients who undergo aggressive therapy that includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation experience a longer than average life expectancy.

However, the majority of patients die from respiratory failure caused by the tumor extending beyond the pleura, small bowel obstruction caused by a tumor in the abdominal cavity extending below the diaphragm, and heart failure or irregular heartbeat caused by a tumor in the sac surrounding the heart extending into the heart muscle.

Keep in mind that new techniques are being developed that can diagnose the disease at an early stage and treat it more aggressively than current therapeutic agents. This will ultimately increase life expectancy.

Regardless of all this, life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis hinges on a few elements, including:

  • Early detection
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Treatment options

Early Detection is Key

The most important factor in a mesothelioma case is when the disease was diagnosed—more specifically, how far advanced it is by the time doctors catch it. Mesothelioma is very often difficult to detect, a fact attributable to its ambiguous and seemingly benign early symptoms. Mesothelioma and life expectancy are directly linked with those first cues to seek medical consultation.

Once the disease has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. Almost without exception, a treatment that is begun early has better results than treatment that is begun in the more advanced stages.

Lifestyle Choices Matter

Both the initial prognosis and continuing outlook of mesothelioma is affected by the overall health of the patient. Health is affected by a number of lifestyle choices, including nutrition. Once diagnosed, it is of vital importance that patients keep their weight up. Nutrition should be tailored to maintain weight through healthy eating.

Both pre- and post-diagnosis, smoking can also be a major influence on the development of mesothelioma. It is important to note that cigarette smoke is not attributed as a cause of mesothelioma. It does, however, have a bearing on mesothelioma and life expectancy; exposure to both cigarette smoke and asbestos together also increases the likelihood that lung cancers will develop.

Of course, for anyone living with mesothelioma, living as healthfully as possible is perhaps the best action for improving quality of life.

Treatment Options and Success Rates are Limited

It is important to know that mesothelioma is considered a particularly harsh type of cancer and that treatment is designed to prolong life, not to cure the disease. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are all traditional treatment options.

Many patients also explore alternative treatments—examples include acupuncture and relaxation training. While none of these non-traditional methods have been proven to eliminate the disease, they have shown some effectiveness in controlling it.

Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Currently, the mesothelioma survival rate is dismal—for each year post-diagnosis, the percentage of survivors is essentially cut in half. For instance, about 40% of those diagnosed are still alive within one year of diagnosis. The following year, that number is divided into approximately 20% of survivors. And after the two-year mark, no more than 10% of mesothelioma sufferers are still alive.

Given such devastating news about the mesothelioma survival rate, victims now try to find a way to cope with this diagnosis. Your life changes entirely and there are only a few important things to decide. How you cope will help to determine the quality of your life in the years to come.

Your medical professionals should offer support and also the best plan of action for your individual illness. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, and counselors can guide you to think clearly and ensure the right decisions are made. These individuals are trained to guide patients to the best decisions.

You should also be able to find support groups that can help you realize that although you have a terminal diagnosis, it is what you do with the days you have remaining that matters. Many foundations provide excellent assistance to patients regarding asbestos-related diseases, their rights, and what to expect.

Mesothelioma life expectancy has been a topic among scholars in the last few years. In 2009, new research was published by the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, determining that the best indicator of life expectancy for mesothelioma victims is a decrease in lung function.

Medical professionals are now sure to provide patients with regular screenings using a spirometer. This device measures the amount of air being inhaled and exhaled and is used as an indicator to predict how far the disease has progressed and thereby defining individual mesothelioma survival rate statistics.

Research Suggests that a Multi-Modality Treatment Approach is Necessary to Increase Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

In an article titled “Improving the Outcome in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Nonaggressive or Aggressive Approach”, published March 2009 in Current Opinion in Oncology, researchers studied the issue of how aggressive mesothelioma treatment options should be in view of the limited life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.

Here’s what they found:

  • Surgical interventions of all types are becoming increasingly used in centers that specialize in the treatment of the disease.
  • Using a combination of chemotherapy administered prior to surgery and extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes the entire diseased lung, increases the average survival time by approximately two years.
  • In cases where there is a local recurrence of the disease, high-dose radiation administered to the entire side of the thorax containing the diseased lung after the lung has been removed has increased life expectancy. However, both this type of radical surgery and high-dose irradiation of the entire side of the thorax are associated with mortality risks and can only currently be performed in centers specializing in the treatment of mesothelioma.

New Ways to Predict Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Are Being Found

Research published in the January 2009 edition of the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health suggests that a decrease in lung function that occurs as a result of asbestos-related disease is a better indicator of life expectancy than exposure history. Consequently, individuals with known asbestos exposure should be given primary screenings with a spirometer, which measures the amount of air that is inhaled and exhaled.

The researchers also concluded that asbestos-exposed individuals with a history of extensive cumulative exposure, rapidly declining lung function, or chest x-rays that indicate diffuse pleural thickening or small irregular dark spots need to undergo high-resolution computer tomography. In addition, all smokers with a history of asbestos exposure should be given free smoking cessation therapy to prevent both lung cancer and premature death.

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