Mesothelioma is an aggressive, highly fatal form of cancer occurring in the mesothelium—the lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 45,221 people reportedly died from mesothelioma in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015. Most of the diagnosed patients died from lung complications arising from the disease, such as respiratory failure or pneumonia. How mesothelioma patients die depends on the cancer type and tumor location.
The prognosis for patients with mesothelioma differs due to numerous factors. Unfortunately, most people find out they have the disease once it is already in an advanced stage, which results in a low survival rate of less than 10%. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Treatments are available to address the symptoms and improve the condition; however, these can be expensive and out of reach for many, especially those who do not have medical insurance to help cover costs.
What Causes Death in Mesothelioma Patients?
Mesothelioma is linked to prolonged asbestos exposure. A majority of cases are a result of occupational exposure to the mineral. However, the disease can remain latent in the body for a long time. Symptoms typically appear 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure, making it difficult to treat in the early stages.
There are four types of mesothelioma, and each is identified based on the location of the affected mesothelium. Among them, pleural mesothelioma is the most common, affecting more than half of diagnosed cases. Most patients get pleural mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos fibers, which causes cell mutation in the lungs that develop into a malignant tumor. The tumor causes patients to experience chest pain, breathing difficulties, and persistent coughing, caused by the build-up of fluid in the chest, known as pleural effusion. In many cases, the condition leads to respiratory failure and, ultimately, death. Also, there are instances when the tumor spreads and invades other organs and tissues, such as the heart, abdomen, diaphragm, and esophagus, causing them to malfunction.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Diagnosed Patients?
In general, the prognosis for mesothelioma is poor. Average life expectancy following its diagnosis ranges from 12 to 21 months, and sometimes shorter if discovered during the later stages. Late diagnosis limits most patients to palliative or supportive care as the disease becomes more difficult to manage with treatment.
However, keep in mind that primary factors like age, overall health, and type of tumor can also impact a patient’s survival and effectiveness of treatments. Younger, healthier patients can handle more aggressive treatments.
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Is It Possible to Treat Mesothelioma?
Yes, it is possible to treat mesothelioma, and even more rare to cure it. The key is early detection of the disease, so it is crucial to pay attention to its warning signs. Sometimes, chest pain, sudden weight loss, and unusual lumps underneath the chest’s skin may point to a condition other than mesothelioma. Mention to your doctor if you have had previous exposure to asbestos for a more accurate diagnosis. Once confirmed, they will determine the treatments possible for your condition.
In the early stages of mesothelioma, surgery can remove as much of the affected area as possible. While its success rate varies in most cases, it is often effective at alleviating the symptoms, particularly when combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
During chemotherapy, a combination of drugs stops cancer growth by killing the cells or preventing them from reproducing or dividing. It can be used either before surgery to shrink the tumor, or after to reduce the likelihood of cancerous cells from returning.
Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation from X-rays and protons and focuses on the affected area to eliminate cancer cells. It is often used following the surgical procedure to kill any remaining abnormal cells. However, there are instances when it can be useful in slowing down advanced mesothelioma if surgery is not feasible.
How do mesothelioma patients die and how can a lawyer help me?
If you want to learn more about how mesothelioma patients die or how you can fight the disease, consult a doctor who specializes in the field.
But keep in mind that treating mesothelioma comes at a high cost—one that you should not have to struggle with on your own, especially if you contracted the disease because of someone else’s negligence. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek financial compensation to pay for medical care, lost wages, and more. With over three decades of experience, we have provided legal representation on personal injury and wrongful death cases involving cancer, including mesothelioma.
Contact a member of our team today at (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation.