Mesothelioma, a form of cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lungs, is categorized into four stages. As with all types of cancer, the earlier the stage that mesothelioma is detected, the better your chance of survival.
According to the American Cancer Society, the four stages of mesothelioma are:
- Stage 1: The cancer is contained, or localized, to one side or both sides of the mesothelial lining but has not spread to distant parts of the body.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread from the lining to the lungs themselves, the diaphragm, or to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread to several nearby organs and tissues, including the spine, trachea, or heart.
- Stage 4: The cancer is widespread throughout the body, both to organs near the lungs and distant, as well as tissues and the lymph nodes.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will figure out how advanced your cancer is, as well as where the cancer is inside your body.
How Mesothelioma Is Treated According to Stages
People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma in its earlier stages generally have more treatment options. Once the cancer has spread beyond the lung’s lining, surgery may not be possible.
Patients with mesothelioma should talk to their medical team to understand the benefits and risks of available treatment options, including:
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Palliative treatment and care
Your doctor may recommend one or more treatments. These may be aggressive cancer-fighting options, like chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. Targeted therapy works well on certain types of cancer cells. Palliative treatment relieves pain or other mesothelioma symptoms without fighting the cancer itself.
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe complementary therapies or medicine to improve your quality of life. For example, your doctor may put you on a portable oxygen tank to help you with shortness of breath.
How Long People with Mesothelioma Live
Survival rates are estimates of how long patients usually live with a specific kind of cancer. There are many factors that affect how long people with mesothelioma survive after they are diagnosed.
These factors include:
- Their cancer’s stage and type.
- Their age at the time of diagnosis.
- Their overall health (if they have medical conditions in addition to mesothelioma).
- Their ability to withstand the side effects of cancer-fighting treatment.
People who are diagnosed with localized (similar to stage 1) mesothelioma have a five-year survival rate of 20 percent. Patients who are in the later stages of the disease typically have around a 10 percent chance of living five years after their initial diagnosis.
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Asbestos Exposure Is the Primary Cause of Mesothelioma
The most common cause of mesothelioma in the lungs is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a common name for mineral fibers made from iron, calcium, aluminum, sodium, and magnesium. Asbestos was widely used until the 1970s for construction and manufacturing because it is strong yet flexible.
Today, asbestos is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). People who are regularly exposed to asbestos are at a greater risk for mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, eight out of 10 people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos.
Why Asbestos Is Harmful
People who are exposed to asbestos most likely develop mesothelioma when they breathe in its tiny fibers. These fibers cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs. It is believed that this damage triggers normal, healthy cells to mutate. When enough mutated cancer cells take over, they form a tumor.
Who Is Most at Risk for Mesothelioma
Most people are exposed to asbestos through their job, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although it is no longer used in construction and shipbuilding, asbestos is often found in renovation and demolition.
People whose work put them at an increased risk of asbestos exposure include:
- Insulators and HVAC workers
- Ship builders and renovators
- Demolition workers
- Construction workers
- Auto mechanics
- Military personnel
You may also be exposed to asbestos if you live in an older home. Your risk of exposure increases when asbestos deteriorates or if you are doing some home remodeling. There are asbestos removal specialists who can safely remove the asbestos from your home.
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When to Call a Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you were exposed to asbestos through work and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. Each state has its own statutes of limitations, or time limit on when you may take legal action. That is why you may benefit from talking to the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options.
Call (800) 307-3113 today to discuss your case with a member of our firm.