For those sitting in a doctor’s office hearing the words “you have cancer” for the first time, the typical response is “How long do I have to live?”. It’s a natural human response, of course, one that has a definite connection to the fact that cancer has long been known as a killer, despite the fact that amazing strides have been made in the realm of treatments for various forms of the disease.
Mesothelioma cancer has long been one of the most difficult to treat. Because of its long latency period, it seems to attack suddenly and with ferociousness, stealing a person’s health and dignity quickly and often leaving families devastated.
It’s a cancer whose particulars have stumped doctors and researchers for decades as well as a disease that is frustrating due to the fact that, in most cases, it could have been avoided if the general public had been warned about the dangers of asbestos.
Nonetheless, mesothelioma patients – just like other cancer patients – will want to know what they’re dealing with as far as the outcome of the disease and their overall prognosis. For a clear answer, the oncologist will need to weight several issues:
The Stage of the Disease
As with any cancer, the sooner it is diagnosed the better the prognosis for mesothelioma. Sadly, however, mesothelioma is often not detected until it has reached Stage 3 or 4 though researchers continue working to develop better ways to locate the disease earlier.
The American Cancer Society provides reports on median survival times for mesothelioma patients diagnosed at different stages. Median refers to the length of time that at least half the group of patients lived before succumbing to mesothelioma. It’s the same as figuring out an “average”. Here’s what they found:
• Stage 1 – 21 months
• Stage 2 – 19 months
• Stage 3 – 16 months
• Stage 4 – 12 months
Those who are in a position to undergo certain surgical procedures (usually Stage 1 or 2, sometimes 3) have a better chance of survival than those who are not candidates for surgery.
The General Health of the Patient
Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often older, having been exposed to asbestos in the years before rules were made about its use. Older individuals often have co-existing medical conditions that make cancers like mesothelioma even more difficult to treat.
More information about mesothelioma
These include heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and simply just the frailties associated with old age. As such, surgery is often not an option.
Younger, healthier victims of the disease fair better. These might include individuals who were exposed as children (perhaps victims of secondhand exposure) and are now perhaps in their 40s or 50s. If they’ve maintained good, healthy habits, they may make it to the all-important 5-year survival mark.
Currently, however, only about 10 percent of all meso patients live for 5 years after diagnosis.
Fighting the Odds
There are plenty of stories of mesothelioma patients who have lasted much longer than expected. These are often individuals who’ve taken their care into their own hands, opting for treatment with supplements and a change of diet, for example, rather than the standard chemotherapy or radiation.
Some have had much success and their stories are worth researching.
In addition, research into mesothelioma has been somewhat better funded over the last 10 years and scientists and doctors continue to look for ways to fight mesothelioma and to catch it before it has spread to a point where prognosis is grim. The best way to keep up with these advances in mesothelioma treatment is to secure the services of an experienced oncologist who knows the ins and outs of the disease.
Have questions? Call Lee, (855) 397-6640