Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that has no cure yet. According to the American Cancer Society, its five-year survival rate stands at approximately 10% since most cases were only diagnosed correctly at an advanced stage. When detected early, it goes up to 20% because treatments can alleviate the symptoms and improve the outlook.
However, bear in mind that statistics only show results based on previous outcomes, and the situation of each patient significantly varies according to their circumstances. Multiple factors can impact the effectiveness of treatments, but it will not change the fact that mesothelioma is not curable.
Typical Prognosis for Mesothelioma
With mesothelioma, prognosis has always been poor, mainly because of late diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the median survival following diagnosis stands at approximately one year. It means that around 50% of diagnosed patients will live for at least 12 months.
Nonetheless, the chances of survival can improve significantly, depending on many factors. Among these, the stage or extent of cancer and its location in the body will have the most significant effect. During the early stages, when the tumor remains localized, a patient may go with several treatment options to stop the progression. Considerations like age, overall health, type of mesothelioma cells, and tumor size will also dictate the likelihood of survival. For instance, younger, healthier diagnosed patients can withstand cancer better than older people.
Detecting Mesothelioma Early
Early detection is the key to treating mesothelioma, similar to other cancer types. However, it takes several decades for it to develop. By the time it exhibits symptoms for diagnosis, it has already advanced to its final stage, where treatments may result in minimal to no improvement.
Misdiagnosis also happens more often with mesothelioma because its signs are similar to other conditions. Pay attention to red flags like chest pains, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, sudden weight loss, and unusual lumps under the skin around the chest area. It is also crucial to tell your doctor if you had previous exposure to asbestos. Doing so prompts them to run further testing aside from imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, positron emission tomography, and MRI, on potential areas.
People with mesothelioma have higher levels of fibulin-3, osteopontin, and soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs) in their blood. Although blood tests are not definitive, the results often point to an increased likelihood of the disease. If you have fluid buildup, your doctor can obtain a sample and test it for mesothelioma cells. Your doctor can also order a biopsy to examine actual tissue removed from the tumor or potential site for a more accurate diagnosis.
The Available Treatments for Mesothelioma
Where treatment is possible, a patient will have three options—surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. An effective treatment plan typically involves a combination of at least two.
During surgery, the goal is to remove most of the affected areas with some of the surrounding healthy tissue to reduce the risk of spreading.
On the other hand, chemotherapy uses drugs to stop or slow cancer growth by killing the cancerous cells or preventing them from reproducing. When implemented after surgery, it aims to reduce the possibility of recurrence.
Radiation therapy makes use of high-energy beams focused on affected areas to eliminate mesothelioma cells. For early-stage patients, it is effective in killing the remaining cancer cells after surgery. In cases of advanced mesothelioma where surgery is impossible, it can slow down the disease’s progression.
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Causes of Mesothelioma
One of the identified risk factors for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Most cases result from occupational exposure to the mineral, as many industries previously used asbestos before its strict regulation. Some of the diagnosed patients reported living with someone who worked with asbestos or lived nearby mines or areas with concentrated levels. The fine mineral fibers settle in the lungs when inhaled, causing irritation that leads to mesothelioma 20 to 50 years after exposure. That is why the average age of diagnosed patients is 72 years old, according to the American Cancer Society.
Factors like age and inherited predisposition to cancer also increase your vulnerability to contracting mesothelioma. If you think that your diagnosis is due to an occupational hazard, you can claim for medical costs and settlement.
A Lawyer Can Help
Even though mesothelioma is not curable, know that advancements in the medical field have made it possible to have a better outlook now than in previous years. Apart from working with a team of doctors, it is also crucial to seek advice from a legal professional, particularly if you suspect the cause of mesothelioma is asbestos-related.
Let a lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm help you fight to get financial compensation from those liable for your cancer. We provide sound legal advice and representation to victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Call (800) 794-0444 for a free consultation.