Mesothelioma Prognosis: What You Should Know

This article is the third of a four-part series in which helpful information will be detailed for victims of mesothelioma. Part I discusses Mesothelioma Symptoms. The series lists: Part II Mesothelioma Diagnosis; and Part IV – Mesothelioma Lawyer

Mesothelioma Prognosis

To guide doctors in determining treatment and life expectancy, specific tests are used in a mesothelioma prognosis to define how far a particular cancer has spread and what is the next best course of action for a patient. Because mesothelioma can take decades to detect, doctors have established a number of different ways to determine where a patient is with their mesothelioma diagnosis.

Unfortunately, all mesothelioma prognosis determinations are not good. This is a fatal disease and because it can take 20-40 years to detect, severe damage has been done to many vital organs. The average life expectancy for patients after diagnosis is between six and eighteen months. The therapies currently available have proven to have an impact on life expectancy in some patients depending on the stage of the cancer. Other patients that undergo aggressive therapies that include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation experience a longer than average life expectancy.

Most patients die from respiratory failure caused by tumors spreading past the pleura or small bowel obstruction triggered by a tumor in the abdominal cavity and ranging from below the diaphragm. Another cause is heart failure produced by a tumor located in the sac surrounding the heart and extending into the heart muscle.

New therapies are being developed that can help to diagnose the cancer at earlier stages thereby prolonging life expectancy. Patients will be able to treat the cancer more aggressively at earlier stages than the current therapeutic agents allow.

Mesothelioma Risk Factors

Unfortunately, a person can have been exposed to asbestos years before mesothelioma symptoms are known. A mesothelioma prognosis and diagnosis normally happens in the latest stages of mesothelioma. Most victims were unknowingly exposed at their place of employment by either inhaling or ingesting airborne particles. Indirect exposure can also occur in friends or family members who came into direct contact with someone who had the microscopic particles on their clothing or in their skin or hair.

Chances are if you were employed between 1930-1970 as an electrician, at power plants, oil refineries, shipyards, as a boilermaker, HVAC worker, machinist, pipefitter or Navy engine room worker, you could have unknowingly had asbestos exposure. It was not until 1989 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dispensed a ban on all new uses of asbestos. Uses that were already in existence were permitted to continue.

Repeat exposure to asbestos should be known by your doctor so that he or she can closely screen the health of your lungs. This will increase early detection of mesothelioma and can dramatically improve the prognosis. Treatment options vary depending upon your mesothelioma prognosis.