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Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that has a high latency period of upwards of 40 years. Because it also does not present clear symptoms until after it has grown significantly or spread to other parts of the body, the prognosis is typically very poor for sufferers of the cancer. However, research is ongoing for the best methods of treating mesothelioma and treatments have improved to enhance quality of life as well as chances of survival. Although survival and life expectancy statistics can be very disappointing to a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma, they should be considered averages and not indicators of any individualized outcome from mesothelioma treatments and therapies.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Life expectancy for a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is dependent on a number of factors, including overall health, age and most importantly, the stage at which the cancer is discovered. Patients who are screened and have mesothelioma diagnosed at stage 1 or stage 2, which means the cancer is fairly localized and has minimally affected other parts of the body, typically are put through a curative treatment regimen. These patients, who might be candidates for a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, have the highest survival rate and may surpass the statistical average life expectancy of 10% for five years.
The average life expectancy for all mesothelioma cases is estimated to average between four and 18 months. However, there have been notable exceptions to these statistics, and patients have survived up to 20 years after diagnosis. Younger patients have a much higher rate of survival, with those under 45 years of age reaching 40% for a five-year survival rate. Factors such as early diagnosis, overall good health and proper nutrition can all help to raise the chance of survival and a cure in a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Working Towards a Cure for Mesothelioma
There has been a great deal of research done on mesothelioma and finding cures to the disease, especially since the U.S. government heavily tightened restrictions on asbestos manufacture and use in 1989. Since then, a number of treatment options have become available that improves the life expectancy and survival rate for mesothelioma sufferers.
If a mesothelioma patient is diagnosed in stage 3 or stage 4, it means that the tumor has already progressed to an advanced stage and spread to other organs and other parts of the body. In practical terms, the mesothelioma has spread too far to be considered curable, and palliative care might be discussed to ease pain and improve quality of life.
However, if a patient is diagnosed with stage 1 or stage 2 mesothelioma, life expectancy is somewhat improved and a curative-oriented regimen of treatments may be prescribed. Usually, this includes a combination of surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy, all of which are meant to remove and kill cancerous cells.
Although there is still no definite cure for mesothelioma, there is the possibility of improving life expectancy outcomes by exploring with a doctor the variety of treatments available.