In 2013, stand-up comedian Ed Lauter died months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. However, his isn’t the only death in Hollywood caused by asbestos-related cancer. This incurable disease claimed the lives of Steve McQueen, Paul Gleason, and other veterans in the entertainment industry. It’s also estimated that around 2,500 Americans died annually from mesothelioma, sometimes being exposed to this disease decades ago! As for pleural mesothelioma, patients are diagnosed with this disease while in their 70s on average. As we don’t have a cure for this cancer right now, attempts are made to improve the patient’s health. So, how long is a patient’s life expectancy if they contract mesothelioma?
What Happens After Asbestos Exposure?
Currently, asbestos has been identified as the reason behind mesothelioma. In the 20th century, several companies manufactured products containing this mineral before people realized it was harmful to our lungs. This naturally occurring material is composed of flexible and heat-resistant fibers used in the construction industry for insulation. These fibers may lead to changes in a person’s DNA when inhaled. A person exposed to asbestos may show symptoms including wheezing, coughing, and tiredness. Fibers – on the other hand – continue altering the patient’s cells, sometimes leading to mesothelioma.
Besides lung/ovarian/laurel cancer, mesothelioma remains one of the deadliest asbestos-related issues, with 45,000+ deaths in the USA between 1999 and 2015. No amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe! We suggest you visit this website to learn more about mesothelioma, its types and stages, and treatment options available for patients. In the pleural category, cancer begins on the pleura, which is a membrane covering your lungs. It thickens the membrane, and breathing becomes difficult. We’ll explain in the next section how the type of cancer the patient has affects their life expectancy. The chances of survival may improve if the disease is detected sooner to take appropriate medical actions.
Factors Affecting a Patient’s Survival Rate
Several factors determine the patient’s life expectancy. For starters, mesothelioma has a latency period between 13 and 70 years – as per one 1992 study. In rare cases, cancer’s developed after one or two decades! The life expectancy of an average patient ranges from 12 to 21 months. Though, in reality, we know that it can change based on the disease’s stage and location along with the patient’s age and sex. So, how do these factors increase or decrease a patient’s life expectancy? Here’s a brief overview:
- Stage: A study conducted in the UK shows that 60% of patients on stages 1 and 2 survive a year with mesothelioma. For stage 3, around 50 out of 100 patients live beyond a year. The one-year survival rate decreases to 30% among patients diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
- Cell Type: Mesothelioma has been classified into three cell types, i.e., epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. People with pleural mesothelioma survive longer with epithelioid cells (19 months), just like those with peritoneal mesothelioma (54 months) compared to the biphasic ones.
- Location: The location also decides for how long the patient will live. So, pleural mesothelioma gives a life expectancy of 18 months (on average, of course). But the pericardial (heart-based) version allows just six months to live! With peritoneal (abdomen-based) mesothelioma, patients can survive for 2-6 years. But the testicular one lets you thrive for 20-23 months.
- Age and sex: Understandably, older patients have a shorter life expectancy than younger ones. People aged 75+ live for 4+ months with pleural mesothelioma, while those under 65 do survive an entire year. It’s also been observed that women live longer with mesothelioma than men. Moreover, suppose a patient has a history of smoking or elevated WBC/platelet counts. In that case, the patient’s more vulnerable to dying early from this deadly asbestos-caused cancer.
Methods of Increasing the Life Expectancy
Several treatment options are available that improve a patient’s lifestyle and potentially increase their life expectancy. These options include surgically removing the tumor combined with chemotherapy. One method called pneumonectomy (lung-removal operation) prevents disease recurrence in 80-85 percent of patients. Similarly, a tumor-removal survey combined with HIPEC leads to a five-year survival rate of 50%! Specialists have also proposed other options you may explore to improve your life expectancy:
- Advances in medical science continue occurring, and clinical trials offer patients some hope. It would help if you spoke with patients who have already undergone a trial before considering it.
- Some experts suggest treating the patient holistically. Instead of treating the diseases only, this approach attempts to heal the patient entirely. So, the patient’s immune system is strengthened and empowered to fight mesothelioma.
- Restricting your diet to nutritious meals also helps escape the ramifications of mesothelioma. A diet composed of plant-based foods and no processed stuff can significantly contribute to your well-being.
Reading Paul Kraus’ mesmerizing biography encourages cancer patients to assume an optimistic attitude today. He survived a cross-country escape from Nazi-occupied Poland and then immigrating to Australia as an infant. He was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 1997. Even though doctors assumed he had only weeks to live, Paul survived his advanced metastases and transformed the disease into a career! It shows that mesothelioma patients shouldn’t lose hope just after an initial diagnosis.
Different factors affect how long a patient can survive with this cancer. The size of the tumor and the extent of the disease are among the factors that make the average life expectancy of mesothelioma patients around one year. Research shows that 40% of cancer patients survive a year with mesothelioma. In comparison, hardly 10% live with this disease for half a decade. Today, several treatment options are available for patients to increase their life expectancy and improve their life quality.