Mesothelioma Prognosis

Summary

Often, the prognosis for someone who has been diagnosed 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.

Mesothelioma Prognosis vs. Diagnosis

Far too frequently, individuals mix up the terms “diagnosis” and “prognosis”.

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

A prognosis after a mesothelioma diagnosis is not usually a favorable one, but it will also depend on the patient’s disease stage at diagnosis.

Many factors contribute to a prognosis, including:

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 they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

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

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 Prognosis, Survival Rate and Life Expectancy

Often, medical professionals use these 3 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 that they gather from others who have lived through similar circumstances, who developed cancer from exposure to similar pollutants, or who have cancer at a similar stage of advancement.

A prognosis is only an educated guess, and many patients manage to far outlive the initial prognosis.

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 extraordinarily aggressive medication regime needed to fight 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 the treatment that is necessary to fully kill off the mesothelioma cells, leaving their bodies battered and broken.
  • Gender: Women may have a slightly better prognosis than men, responding better to ongoing treatment for mesothelioma due to hormonal differences.
  • Blood Characteristics: Specific biomarkers and proteins in an individual’s blood may impact that patient’s prognosis, indicating numerous factors that medical professionals need to be aware of. For this reason, studying a blood and biomarkers carefully is an ongoing part of mesothelioma research.
  • Cell Type: Epithelioid mesothelioma tends to carry the best prognosis with it, as this type of mesothelioma responds best to ongoing aggressive treatment. These types of cells stick together more closely 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 and has the poorest prognosis overall.

Biphasic cells are tumors with both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells, and the overall prognosis for the patient depends on the ratio of each type of cell in the body. Individuals who have more epithelioid cells tend to have a better prognosis.

  • Life Expectancy: This is the time that the doctors estimate that 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 and five-year lengths of time, making it easier for doctors and patients to keep track. This allows individuals to keep track of milestones, but it also makes it possible to calculate statistics related to the disease more effectively.

MJN Brief

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

 

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

Mesothelioma develops due to patients being exposed to asbestos—a toxin that causes severe damage to the human body. Individuals who are early on in the disease and still fighting off the symptoms will need the correct medical care in order to help them do so.

Treatments for Improving Mesothelioma Prognosis

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 but it may be hard on your body. This means that not everyone may qualify, and not everyone may be physically able to undergo this type of treatment.

In many cases, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are unable to undergo aggressive treatments, and instead 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

The healthier the patient is, the better equipped they are to fight mesothelioma. Having good health and fitness will also help them live a longer life and better endure the awful side effects of the ongoing cancer treatments.

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.

Patients also need to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you’ve developed mouth sores from chemotherapy medications (a common chemotherapy side effect), you may prefer chipped ice, lollipops, popsicles or hard candies.

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.

Getting help with tasks like paying bills, preparing meals, cleaning and other household chores can alleviate the emotional burden of a mesothelioma diagnosis, allowing patients to put their full focus on their health.

Compensation for Injury and Death Related to Asbestos

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.

Asbestos legal compensation can apply to many cases of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma that cause disability or death. Awards may include coverage for 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, helping to build a case for justice. For more information, contact The Mesothelioma Justice Network today.