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.
Free Mesothelioma Guide
Mesothelioma is a complex disease. Our free Mesothelioma Guide will help you understand your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Get Your Free Mesothelioma Guide
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.