Advanced mesothelioma is a severe form of mesothelioma in which the cancer has spread to multiple parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 3,000 people receive a mesothelioma diagnosis every year in the United States. Many of these cases are diagnosed in the advanced stage.
Different types of cancer can be caused by a range of factors, including environment, genetics, and lifestyle. Mesothelioma is an aggressive, deadly form of cancer most often caused by environmental hazards, specifically asbestos exposure. Some people are not diagnosed until decades after their asbestos exposure. People who receive their diagnosis 15 years or more after exposure typically have advanced mesothelioma.
Stages of Mesothelioma
The American Society of Clinical Oncology defines staging as a way to indicate how much the cancer has affected the body. Specifically, it describes where the cancer is located and if or where it has spread from its origin. Mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelium (the thin layer of tissue that covers many organs), can occur in the lungs, heart, abdomen, or testicles.
Doctors categorize mesothelioma and other cancers into four stages. In the early stages, or Stages 1 and 2, most patients have multiple treatment options and a higher likelihood of survival compared to patients with advanced stages of the disease, or Stages 3 and 4.
The stages of mesothelioma are as follows:
- Stage 1: Mesothelioma is localized in one side of the body with no signs of spreading (metastasis) to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 2: The cancer is still localized, but it has metastasized. Aggressive treatment may still be feasible.
- Stage 3: There are signs of significant metastasis and the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and nearby organs. Treatment options are limited.
- Stage 4: The cancer has infected both sides of the body. Treatment is extremely limited, mostly focused on relieving symptoms.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of six fibrous minerals that occur in nature but are hazard to humans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have both confirmed that exposure to any type of asbestos can contribute to the development of serious medical conditions, including advanced mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
In addition to natural supplies, asbestos is present in many human-made products and structures. The hazardous properties of asbestos were first determined back in the early 1900s. Nonetheless, because of its heat-resistant and fire-retardant qualities, numerous manufacturers, construction companies, refineries, factories, and other industrial facilities continued to use asbestos throughout much of the 20th century.
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How Mesothelioma Develops
Asbestos fibers can break off from the host material or structure and become airborne. If a person inhales these particles, the fibers can embed themselves into the lining of the throat, windpipe, or bronchi. Coughing or swallowing can dislodge the fibers. However, if a person is exposed for long periods and inhales a significant number of particles, the body may not be able to rid itself of them. When this occurs, the fibers may travel to the lungs or abdomen and embed themselves in the mesothelium of various organs. Eventually, the asbestos particles can damage cells and DNA, causing mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other conditions.
Early mesothelioma detection is crucial to increase a person’s chances of survival. Doctors can use tests such as X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, PET scans, or blood tests to detect abnormalities or tumors and diagnose a patient, sometimes even before symptoms present.
The symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Respiratory difficulties, including coughing blood, wheezing, or shortness of breath
- Trouble swallowing
- Unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal difficulties
- Chest pain
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor as soon as possible to get tested. Monitor your health closely and seek medical attention if you develop any of these or other unusual symptoms.
Life Expectancy for Advanced Mesothelioma
ACS has calculated the relative five-year survival rate—the likelihood of a person living for the next five years—for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), which is the most common type of mesothelioma. According to the ACS, the average five-year survival rate for MPM patients ranges from 8% to 20%. Pleural mesothelioma refers to mesothelioma that has infected the pleura, or lining of the lungs. The ACS reports that the median survival time for patients with pleural mesothelioma who have surgery to remove the malignant tumor is:
Stage 1 – 21 months
Stage 2 – 19 months
Stage 3 – 16 months
Stage 4 – 12 months
Those who have additional health concerns, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, typically have a shorter life expectancy compared to those who are otherwise healthy. If you have been diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma, your doctor can determine the best course of action to combat the cancer or mitigate your symptoms.
A Mesothelioma Lawyer Can Help
Once you have received medical treatment, you may also consider discussing your situation with a mesothelioma lawyer. People diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos may have legal grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. While no amount of money can undo your suffering, financial compensation can help you pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with your advanced mesothelioma diagnosis. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case.