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Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma life expectancy is the statistical number of years of life an individual has left when they reach a certain age. It usually refers to the number of whole years. Life expectancy can be influenced by many factors such as gender and lifestyle.

What is the Mesothelioma Life Expectancy for Patients?

Although no one can calculate how long an individual’s life expectancy is, there are some general observations based on percentages of patients. Currently, the average life expectancy for a diagnosis of mesothelioma patients is between six to 18 months. The currently available therapies do impact life expectancy in some patients depending on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. Some patients who undergo aggressive therapy that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation experience a longer than average life expectancy.

However, the majority of patients die from respiratory failure caused by the tumor extending beyond the pleura, small bowel obstruction caused by a tumor in the abdominal cavity extending below the diaphragm, and heart failure or irregular heart beat caused by a tumor in the sac surrounding the heart extending into the heart muscle.

Keep in mind that new techniques are being developed that can diagnose the disease at an early stage and treat it more aggressively than current therapeutic agents. This will ultimately increase life expectancy.

Research Suggests that a Multi-Modality Treatment Approach is Necessary to Increase Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

In an article titled “Improving the Outcome in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Nonaggressive or Aggressive Approach”, published March 2009 in Current Opinion in Oncology, researchers studied the issue of how aggressive mesothelioma treatment options should be in view of the limited life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.

Here’s what they found:

  • Surgical interventions of all types are becoming increasingly used in centers that specialize in the treatment of the disease.
  • Using a combination of chemotherapy administered prior to surgery and extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes the entire diseased lung, increases the average survival time by approximately two years.
  • In cases where there is a local recurrence of the disease, high-dose radiation administered to the entire side of the thorax containing the diseased lung after the lung has been removed has increased life expectancy. However both this type of radical surgery and high-dose irradiation of the entire side of the thorax are associated with mortality risks and can only currently be performed in centers specializing in the treatment of mesothelioma.

New Ways to Predict Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Are Being Found

Research published in the January 2009 edition of the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health suggests that decrease in lung function that occurs as a result of asbestos-related disease is a better indicator of life expectancy than exposure history. Consequently, individuals with known asbestos exposure should be given primary screenings with a spirometer, which measures the amount of air that is inhaled and exhaled.

The researchers also concluded that asbestos-exposed individuals with a history of extensive cumulative exposure, rapidly declining lung function, or chest x-rays that indicate diffuse pleural thickening or small irregular dark spots need to undergo high resolution computer tomography. In addition, all smokers with a history of asbestos exposure should be given free smoking cessation therapy to prevent both lung cancer and premature death.

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