Malignant pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma, can spread to the brain, albeit rarely. This aggressive cancer generally spreads across the lungs and to other areas in and around the chest cavity instead of metastasizing to distant regions of the body. It is rare for mesothelioma to spread to the brain, but there have been some cases in medical literature, including studies in the Sept. 2013 issue of the Journal of Surgical Case Reports and Sept. 2014 issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Doctors so often diagnose mesothelioma only after it has advanced, and the disease spreads quickly. As a result, mesothelioma or a related complication often takes the life of the patient before their cancer can spread to the brain or other organs or body parts. When the cancer does spread to the brain, this often represents the very latest stages of the disease when the patient is already considering or receiving palliative care.
Mesothelioma Spreads to the Brain in About 3% of Cases
In the vast majority of cases, pleural mesothelioma progresses by spreading across the pleura and then to other local organs and structures. Because it spreads quickly and widely throughout the chest cavity before symptoms appear, mesothelioma diagnoses commonly occur at stage 4 of the cancer. At this point, doctors cannot treat the disease with surgery.
Two types of cells can form tumors in metastatic mesothelioma: epithelial cells or sarcomatoid cells. The cell type does not play a major role in how doctors treat the cancer, but it can play a role in how the disease progresses. Doctors can generally treat epithelial tumors with greater success. At the same time, sarcomatoid cell tumors stand a greater chance of spreading to the brain.
Still, according to the 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, mesothelioma spreads to the brain much less commonly than many other types of cancer. In general, between 9% and 17% of all cancers that spread metastasize to the brain. In malignant pleural mesothelioma, brain metastasis occurs in about 3% of cases.
Mesothelioma: a Deadly Cancer Even Without Spreading to the Brain
A metastasis to the brain indicates the progression of a disease and a very poor prognosis in malignant mesothelioma. Regardless of whether mesothelioma spreads to the brain, patients with a malignant pleural mesothelioma diagnosis endure a five-year survival rate of just 10%, according to the American Cancer Society. However, patients with distant metastases, including the brain, suffer a survival rate of only 7% five years after diagnosis.
Unfortunately, even when doctors use surgery and chemotherapy, the mean survival time for patients with mesothelioma falls short. This includes:
- Mean survival for those with only local spread of mesothelioma: between a year and three years.
- Mean survival for those with more advanced disease and distant spread: eight to 14 months.
Despite this poor prognosis for patients with the condition, many people opt for treatment. Some fight the disease through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. In many cases, though, supportive or palliative care may represent a better option. With this type of treatment, the doctors aim to relieve symptoms, extend your life, and maintain a high quality of life. Palliative and supportive treatments include:
- Pain management
- Supplemental oxygen therapy
- Pulmonary therapies
These treatments do not offer a cure, nor do they attempt to beat the disease. Instead, they help to prevent complications, reduce suffering, and stop side effects.
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Filing a Claim for Compensation If You Have a Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Many mesothelioma patients file a lawsuit or take other steps to recover a payout from the asbestos company that profited by exposing them to their deadly fibers. This may include receiving a settlement from an asbestos trust fund or taking their case to court and fighting for an award.
Depending on the facts of your case, the evidence available to document your condition, and the health of the applicable asbestos trust fund, you may recover compensation for the additional pain and suffering you experienced when your cancer spread to your brain.
Working with an attorney may make it easier to build a stronger case for compensation.
Talk to a Mesothelioma Attorney About Your Case
If you or a loved one has a mesothelioma diagnosis and a history of asbestos exposure, from the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm wants to talk to you about your case today. Perhaps you can pursue a settlement or award to cover some of the costs of your treatment and case, as well as related expenses.
We do not shy away from tough cases, and we will file a claim with an asbestos trust fund or file a lawsuit, if necessary, to pursue the compensation you need. At the same time, we believe you should not have to pay anything out of pocket or upfront. We do not charge our clients anything until after we settle your case, then we take our fee from the settlement before we disburse your funds.
We will review your case and explain your options. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 307-3113.