After being diagnosed, questions about mesothelioma and survival rate are sure to be first on your list of concerns. While information about your individual prognosis should be entrusted to your physician or medical care team exclusively, some general information about the topic is included in the informational article below.
First, to give you a scope of mesothelioma’s overall reach, let’s examine its prevalence in the United States alone.
Malignant mesothelioma is still considered a rare form of cancer, though its rate of occurrence has increased dramatically in the years since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. This increase has been attributed to the rapid and widespread increase of asbestos usage. Asbestos remains the number-one cause of mesothelioma and has since been banned or stringently restricted around the world.
Approximately 3000 individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. each year. Over the course of ten years, that is a total of 30,000 innocent lives—one life lost approximately every three and a half hours.
The current mesothelioma survival rate is low. One year is a typical, average life expectation given. More specifically—according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), post-diagnosis survival typically ranges between four and eighteen months. The ASCO also reports that less than five percent of those with mesothelioma cancer live to their fifth year after diagnosis.
It is worthwhile to note that little information is available on the mesothelioma survival rate of individuals who are diagnosed in the cancer’s early stages. This is due to the fact that most cases are not diagnosed until the illness is already far advanced—a chief factor that its high morbidity rate is attributable to.
The ASCO also reports that survival rates are now decreasing, rather than increasing—as they did in past decades.
Several factors contribute to each individual’s survival rate. Among those is the age and general physical health of the victim at the time of diagnosis. Specific factors that may impact prognosis, like whether or not the individual is a current or former smoker, are taken into consideration by that person’s physician when making any estimate of survival.
The type and stage of cancer is also largely responsible for a person’s individual mesothelioma survival rate. For instance, the rate of growth of peritoneal tumors is often slower than that of pleural tumors.
In general, mesothelioma is considered a terminal illness with technically no “survivors.” However, there have been many notable exceptions to the typical mesothelioma survival rate—individuals who have significantly outlived their respective prognoses and remain living 10 or more years post-diagnosis. Many of those so-called “survivors” credit their against-the-odds remission to alternative or holistic forms of treatment that are not widely utilized within the scope of the traditional American medical community, suggesting that the key to increasing mesothelioma prognosis may lie within under-tested treatment modalities.