Life Expectancy for Mesothelioma Patients
Six factors that affect the Life Expectancy for Mesothelioma Patients are:
- Stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis
- Location of the tumor
- Tumor cell type / histology
- Tumor development
- Blood characteristics
The life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma refers to the number of months or years that person is expected to live after their diagnosis. Generally, a mesothelioma patient can expect to live for another year, however, this is simply an average.
There are several types of factors that affect the life expectancy of people who are affected by this disease: general health, age, stage of illness and type of mesothelioma play a key role. The impact of these factors is different in each patient, which explains why some live longer than others.
The life expectancy of an American in 2009 was 78.5 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mesothelioma cancer shortens this number by approximately 13 years.
The good news is that both doctors and researchers have worked for decades to increase the life expectancy of patients affected by mesothelioma. Survival rates have steadily increased in recent decades, and with more advances in treatments, more encouraging news is expected.
Although there is no definitive cure for this disease, patients can try to increase their lifespan by participating in specialized treatments and implementing a lifestyle with changes such as exercise and diets. These therapies and clinical experiments can improve the quality of life of a person as well as the duration of it.
Factors Affecting Patient’s Life Expectancy With Mesothelioma
What can influence your life time after being diagnosed with mesothelioma? Tumor-related factors such as the stage at the time of diagnosis and the type of cell in the tumor are among the factors that most influence the life expectancy of a patient. Other factors unrelated to the tumor are the gender of the person and the age of the person.
Tumor Related Factors
The stage of your cancer at the time of diagnosis, the type of cell in the tumor and the location of the tumor, have a substantial influence on the life time you could live after a diagnosis. These are known as tumor-related factors. These factors influence the different treatment options that your doctor may have available to develop a treatment strategy.
The exact stage of your cancer at the time of diagnosis has the greatest impact on life expectancy. The time it takes mesothelioma symptoms to appear is guilty of a late diagnosis in most patients. The symptoms do not appear until the time the cancer is in stage III or IV, which results in the patients’ visit to the doctor once the cancer is well advanced and much more widespread than where it all started. The earlier the diagnosis, the cancer is more likely to be found at an earlier stage and as a result a longer life expectancy.
Cancer is localized. Surgery could remove tumors and the prognosis of life is the highest.
Cancer has spread beyond its point of origin. Surgery may still be an option, however, life expectancy is lower.
Cancer has progressed to a fairly advanced stage. Palliative treatments should be considered to relieve symptoms.
Cancer has spread to distant locations. Palliative treatments can create comfort, however, life expectancy has been drastically reduced.
Mesothelioma is identified by where it is formed in the body. This location is important because some forms of the disease are more investigated, understood more easily and more treatable than others. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, is responsible for 75 percent of cases of mesothelioma and therefore receives more research and attention in its treatment. This translates into more and better treatment options.
Some types of cells that make up the mesothelioma tumor respond better to treatments than others. For example, a tumor made up of epithelial cells responds better to treatments. Because of this fact, there is a better life expectancy for those with epithelial-type mesothelioma. On the other hand, tumors consisting of sarcomatoid or biphasic cells are more difficult to treat and are associated with a shorter life expectancy.
Factors Not Associated with Tumors
In addition to factors related to the tumor, there are some that are not related to it that can influence their life expectancy. Traits like general health, age, gender and even blood characteristics are all indicative of how well your body responds to treatments and how difficult it will be for you to recover after a treatment.
The life expectancy of a patient with mesothelioma can also be affected by demographic factors and lifestyles such as:
Smokers are 90 percent more likely to develop lung cancer after exposure to asbestos.
Almost all studies that have examined the overall health of patients with pleural mesothelioma have found some kind of relationship between life expectancy and their overall health. The more active the person is, the more likely the body will withstand the demands of treatment and recovery.
Seventy-five percent of mesothelioma cases occur in the United States in men older than 55 years.
The more we age, our bodies lose the ability to recover from aggressive therapies and procedures. Additionally, the more we age, the more likely we are to have other complications of entry that could exclude us from receiving some treatment. These facts are significant because most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are between 50 and 70 years of age, with 75 percent of patients in their mid-60s. This means that younger, healthier patients may find themselves in a more favorable position regarding surgical treatments and procedures.
Men are predominantly affected by mesothelioma.
Historically, men have experienced more occupational exposure to asbestos than women. Because of their continued exposure, men are four times more likely to develop mesothelioma than women. Some studies show that women with epithelial mesothelioma tend to live longer than men with the same complication. Researchers still do not know why women have better life expectancy.
Some cells and biomarkers found in the blood appear to have an impact on the life expectancy of patients affected with mesothelioma. For example, some studies report that thrombosis (high number of platelets in the blood) and leukocytosis (high number of white blood cells) are associated with a shorter life expectancy. Biomarkers such as COX-2 antigen p27, MIB-1, VEGF and 90K glycoprotein have shown a prognostic value in scientific studies of mesothelioma and may have an effect on life expectancy.
Treatment, life expectancy and survivors of mesothelioma
The types of treatment that your doctor is going to discuss with you have to do directly with factors related to the tumor and factors not related to this that are unique to you. Your doctor will perform a strategy for your treatment aiming to have a positive impact with the minor side effects. He will take into account all factors to develop a treatment that balances the risks with the rewards.
Medical studies have shown that life expectancy is affected on a larger scale in a positive way with multimodal therapy, in which two or more treatments are combined to magnify the therapeutic effects. However, this type of strategy is considered highly aggressive and due to that aggressiveness, the treatment demands a lot of resistance from the body. As a consequence, many patients do not qualify for this type of treatment.
Generally, to qualify for multimodal therapy, the cancer must be in stage I or II. Some patients in stage III may qualify. In addition they must be in optimal health conditions, be relatively young and have the type of epithelial or biphasic mesothelioma.
The typical combinations of multimodal therapies are with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Other combinations include experimental therapies such as immunotherapy, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy.
Extending Your Life Expectancy
Clearly, many aspects of our body and our life influence how long you can live with mesothelioma. Of all these aspects, detecting cancer in its early stages is considered one of the most important factors in extending the patient’s life expectancy. If you were exposed to asbestos at any time in your life, you should let your doctor know so that you can have a regular screening test for asbestos-related illness.
Studies have shown that patients with mesothelioma have benefited from alternative or complementary therapies like acupuncture, meditation, massage and yoga. These alternative therapies can reduce stress, pain and improve quality of life. Additionally, dietary changes can affect the life expectancy of a patient with mesothelioma. Considering good nutrition in the treatment plan can have quite positive impacts on side effects, stress levels and response to treatments.
In fact, many mesothelioma survivors seem to have something in common: they have all integrated palliative and natural medicine into their treatment plan. Nutritional regimens, alternative and complementary therapies like acupuncture are among the palliative care options for mesothelioma survivors. A number of patients with mesothelioma have survived five years or more because of their treatment, exercise and nutritional regimens.
Five Year Survival Rate (Percentage) 1999 – 2006
Age During Diagnosis — Patients Reaching Five Years of Survival (%)
< 45 ————————— 39.7%
45-54 ————————— 15.7%
55-64 ————————— 7.5%
65-74 ————————— 6.0%
75+ ————————— 2.7%
Source: SEER Cancer Incidence Report
Impact of Life Expectancy with Experimental Treatments
There is a possibility that the best opportunity for a patient is using experimental treatments. Mesothelioma cancer researchers are always evaluating new medications and ways to treat patients, and clinical experiments that allow patients to take advantage of new treatments that can extend their life, on the other hand these are also accompanied by High risks.
There are several experimental therapies that are being investigated to slow down the development of mesothelioma. Some promise to extend life expectancy, including immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy. While newer drugs that are quite effective at eliminating cancer cells (such as gene therapy, which attempts to replace or repair defective genes in cancerous tumors) can extend the life expectancy of patients.
Medical advances have become more refined detecting and managing the disease. As a result, life expectancy is improving little by little. As more research is done and more options for alternative treatments are explored, patients with mesothelioma still have enough options that ultimately can modify their life prognosis and extend their hope to a greater number of years.
Stories of Survivors
Paul Kraus is an Australian shed who was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997. Thirty-five years after his occupational exposure to asbestos, Kraus applied a number of beneficial therapies and changes in his life including a vegetarian diet, consumption Of nutritional supplements and use of ozone therapy (it adds a specific form of oxygen in your blood with the intention of creating oxygen that can remove the cancer cells in your body). Kraus still suffers from mesothelioma but has no pain and is still alive.
At the extreme end of life for patients with mesothelioma is the case of acclaimed American scientist Stephen J. Gould, who lived for 20 years after being diagnosed with the disease. He died of an unrelated condition and wrote a rather popular article about mesothelioma statistics that inspire patients to remain hopeful as each case is unique.