If you’ve been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, the life expectancy you were given by your physician is likely pretty dismal. Mesothelioma is considered terminal, meaning that there is currently no known cure for it and no documented survivors. Despite the generally grim mesothelioma prognosis, there are several factors that can affect how long a person is expected to live with the disease.
Demographic Factors Related to the Victim
In general, the younger a patient is at the time of diagnosis, the longer he or she is expected to live. Much of this factor is attributable to the general health of the victim, which is presumed to often be better for younger patients. For various reasons, women who are diagnosed with mesothelioma tend to fare better and have a longer mesothelioma life expectancy than men.
Overall Health Status of the Victim
The better a patient’s health at the time of diagnosis, the more favorably he or she is expected to respond to treatment. As a result, patients in better health when treatment is begun tend to live longer. Whether or not the individual was a smoker or not may also have an effect on the body’s response to traditional cancer treatments.
Cellular Classification of the Tumor
There are different types of mesothelioma, on the cellular level, including sacromatoid and epithelial. The different cellular types can occur exclusively or in conjunction within a tumor. Epithelial mesothelioma occurs in about fifty percent of cases exclusively and carries a better prognosis than other types.
Location and Severity of the Tumor
Generally speaking, cases of pleural mesothelioma (occurring in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity) have a better outlook than other varieties, including peritoneal (occurring in the lining of the abdomen and stomach) and pericardial (occurring in the lining around the heart). The severity of the cancer, particularly whether or not the tumor is operable, also affects overall mesothelioma life expectancy. In patients who respond to surgery, which includes the removal of the malignant tumor as well as any affected outer tissue, life spans after diagnosis tend to be considerably longer.
Stage of the Cancer
Much of mesothelioma life expectancy is related directly to the stage of cancer that a patient has, although not all forms of the disease are staged in the same conventional way. For instance, the pericardial type has no official staging system, while the more common pleural variety is designated according to the common TNM cancer staging system. By these standards, a patient in the first stage will have a localized form of cancer only, which is restricted to a tumor and possibly some surrounding tissue of the affected organ. This stage is considered to be most operable. The second stage involves the spread of cancer cells to nearby lymph nodes, and the third stage denotes that the cancer has actually metastasized in other parts of the body unrelated to the original tumor.