Can You Survive a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?
Yes, you can. There are many mesothelioma survivors who have beaten mesothelioma and others who have outlasted their prognosis by years. With physicians becoming more apt at diagnosing mesothelioma and catching it earlier, many patients are improving their prognosis and surviving mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is life altering, not only for the patient but also for their friends and families. Those who maintain a positive outlook and have a strong support system tend to make the best decisions for their survival. Having a support system that can assist you in searching for a mesothelioma specialist is extremely important. Our Patient Advocates can also provide you the answers you need. Once you find a specialist, then you can determine your treatment options and move forward with your mesothelioma treatment.
What are the Factors that Affect Your Mesothelioma Survival Rate?
Here are some of the factors that determine one’s survival rate:
- Overall Health
- Asbestos Exposure History
- Type of Mesothelioma
- Severity of Symptoms
- Whether the Mesothelioma Spread or Metastasized
- Mesothelioma Specialist
- Access to medication
The younger you are the better chances you have for surviving mesothelioma. This is because younger patients can get approved for surgical procedures that are not offered for older patients. The issue is that mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed in young patients. A majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are older than 60, and nearly all the people who die because of mesothelioma are over the age of 65.
Studies have shown that women have better survival rates than men. However, the majority of mesothelioma cases involve men because of their occupations. Men experienced more asbestos exposure due to military service and construction and industrial careers. Women who are diagnosed with mesothelioma live longer than men with the same diagnosis and it is believed that women’s hormonal differences may be a factor.
The vast majority of mesothelioma patients are Caucasian, with the disease rarely being diagnosed in Hispanics and African Americans. Caucasians are more apt to undergo surgical procedures and treatments.
The types of mesothelioma are pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular. The introduction of new treatments such as HIPEC has increased the survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. If you are unable to have the HIPEC treatment, then your survival rate is generally six months. With the new treatment, survival rates can be as high as 40 to 92 months. Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are rarely diagnosed but have survival ranges of 6 to 24 months.
Geographical Location and Population
States that had a more robust industrial and manufacturing economy tend to have more people being diagnosed with mesothelioma. However, older populations are largely affected since mesothelioma is generally seen in more mature people. Maine, Alaska, Washington, Wyoming and New Jersey have the highest death rates from mesothelioma.
The Stage of Your Mesothelioma Cancer
Cancer comes in four different stages, Stage I, Stage II, Stage III and Stage IV. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and usually it is not discovered until Stage III or Stage IV. Just like any other cancer, the sooner you diagnose mesothelioma, the sooner you can treat it. If it has spread throughout the body, as in later stages, your survival rate drops dramatically.
Histology or Cellular Types
There are three different types of mesothelioma cells: epithelial, sarcomatoid and biphasic. Epithelial mesothelioma is the least destructive type of mesothelioma because it is the most treatable and least-aggressive type of mesothelioma cell. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the least desired mesothelioma because it is very aggressive and survival rates are very low. Biphasic mesothelioma is similar to epithelial and sarcomatoid mesothelioma in that it can be aggressive, but respond to certain treatments.
What is My Survival Rate After Surgery?
Limiting the spread of mesothelioma by having a tumor removed through a surgical procedure has been shown to provide increased survival rates. Generally those mesothelioma patients who are in Stage I and Stage II are able to have their mesothelioma tumors removed. The survival rate after surgery is increased when a patient combines surgery with radiation and/or chemotherapy.
Pleural Mesothelioma Surgery
There are two types of surgeries that can assist you in increasing your survival rate if you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. They are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D). Neither of these surgeries are shown to be better than the other, so it really comes down to the experience of your mesothelioma specialist and treatment center. It has been shown that patients who have had either of these surgeries increased their life spans by one to two years.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Surgery
The development of cytoreductive surgery for abdominal cancers has been used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. By combining heated chemotherapy during surgery (HIPEC) mesothelioma patients have been able to see life spans increased by more than seven years.