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 Prognosis, Survival Rate and Life Expectancy
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 cancer.
A prognosis is only an educated guess. 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 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.
Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief
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 in 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.
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. Having good health and fitness also helps them live a longer life and more effectively endure the awful side effects of 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.
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, helping to build a case for justice. For more information, contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today at (855) 213-7244.