Mesothelioma Prognosis

Often, the prognosis for someone with mesothelioma is bleak and discouraging. Taking the time to make smart decisions about ongoing medical treatment and overall health habits, may improve your life expectancy and quality of life. Several treatment options will help keep you more comfortable while you fight through the horrific disease that is mesothelioma.

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Mesothelioma Prognosis vs. Diagnosis

It’s easy to mix up the terms “diagnosis” and “prognosis.”

A prognosis is the way a disease is likely to turn out, or how it is likely to affect an individual. A diagnosis is the medical explanation of an individual’s specific disease.

The prognosis after a mesothelioma diagnosis is not usually favorable, but it also depends on the patient’s disease stage at diagnosis.

Many factors contribute to a prognosis, including:

  • Mesothelioma cell type
  • Patient age and gender
  • Disease stage at the time of the diagnosis

Though these factors are beyond the patient’s control, there a few things that can be done to positively influence a patient’s prognosis after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Many individuals have managed to live fairly far beyond their original life expectancies by electing various types of treatments, improving their overall health and circumstances and carefully following their doctors’ advice.

That being said, mesothelioma is almost always a fatal illness. In general, this is not a disease that one survives. Instead, it’s one where the question isn’t a matter of “When do I get better?” but instead “How long do I have left?”

Understanding Your Prognosis

Often, mesothelioma doctors use these three similar terms to discuss a patient’s prognosis with the patient and their family. While the terms have a lot in common, they are not the same. Unfortunately, many people use them as if they are, which can cause confusion.

Simply put, a prognosis is a medical professional’s educated prediction about the end result of the patient’s cancer.

The doctor bases a patient’s prognosis on statistics gathered from others who have lived through similar circumstances, who also developed cancer from asbestos exposure or who have a similar stage of cancer.

A prognosis is only an educated guess. Many patients manage to far outlive the initial prognosis.

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Factors That Affect Prognosis

Some factors that determine prognosis are out of the patient’s control, including the gender, age, blood characteristics and mesothelioma cell type that has developed.

  • Age: The prognosis may appear far more positive for patients who contract mesothelioma at a young age, as their body and immune system may be able to better handle the aggressive medication regime needed to fight the cancer. Younger individuals may also be in better health overall, allowing them to recover from the cancer treatment. Elderly individuals may struggle to recover fully from treatment. Also, they may have other health concerns the body is fighting in addition to the cancer.
  • Gender: Women may have a slightly better prognosis than men because hormonal differences allow them to respond better to ongoing treatment.
  • Blood Characteristics: Specific biomarkers and proteins in an individual’s blood carry different weights in determining a patient’s prognosis. For this reason, studying blood biomarkers carefully is an ongoing part of mesothelioma research.
  • Cell Type: Epithelioid mesothelioma tends to carry the best prognosis because it responds best to aggressive treatment. These types of cells closely stick together and do not spread through the body as easily as sarcomatoid cells (which also do not respond as effectively to treatment). Sarcomatoid is an aggressive mesothelioma cell type with the poorest overall prognosis.
  • Life Expectancy: This is how long doctors estimate an individual will live after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. Most are median life expectancies, meaning that half of the diagnosed patients are predicted to live longer lives, and half are predicted to live shorter lives.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates

The survival rate means the percentage of patients who have survived a certain amount of time after receiving a diagnosis.

Often, these rates are measured in one-year and five-year lengths of time. This allows patients and doctors to keep track of milestones, but it also makes it possible to calculate statistics related to the disease more effectively.

Individuals wanting to improve their prognosis should find specialists who are familiar with their specific diagnosis.

Early detection, follow-up care, and ongoing skilled treatment are key parts of managing a severe illness like mesothelioma.

Treatments for Improving Mesothelioma Prognosis

In particular, those who are diagnosed early on need proper medical care if they want a chance at achieving long-term survival. Treating the cancer before it has spread is the best way to do this.

Individuals with early-stage mesothelioma can benefit from a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This multimodal approach provides patients with the best chance of survival.

Multimodal therapy is extremely aggressive, so it may be hard on your body. This means that not everyone may qualify, as only some will be physically able to undergo this type of treatment.

Patients who are unable to undergo aggressive treatments must be kept comfortable as they live out the remaining time that they have. Mesothelioma steals their health from them, and if they are elderly, they will not be strong enough to survive one or more aggressive rounds of chemotherapy or radiation.

Ways to Improve Patient Health and Comfort

Healthier patients are better equipped to fight mesothelioma. If a patient is able to manage any kind of exercise at all, even daily walks around the home, it will help keep blood flowing and prevent bedsores.

Patients undergoing treatments need to boost their immune systems by eating well and keeping their overall health levels up. Patients struggling to eat may benefit from consulting with a dietician who can suggest foods that are easier to tolerate.

Managing stress levels is essential to maintaining health and combatting this disease. It’s important for patients to find support in different areas of life to minimize the pressure that patients feel.

Paying for Treatment Through Compensation

If you’ve developed mesothelioma related to asbestos from ongoing workplace exposure, you may be eligible for a compensation settlement from the negligent asbestos product manufacturers.

These companies knew for decades that their products were dangerous, but took no action. Today, victims can file a lawsuit to cover medical costs, lost income or personal injury damages. The families of individuals who pass away due to asbestos exposure may also file a wrongful death suit.

For a lawsuit to be successful, you need to show proof that the person died as a result of exposure to asbestos. You’ll also need to know where the exposure occurred and who was the negligent manufacturer or employer.

Mesothelioma lawyers specialize in investigating asbestos victims’ work histories and past details of asbestos exposure. This legal case review helps those diagnosed with mesothelioma seek the justice they deserve.

Don’t wait — get a free case review today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: January 23, 2020

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