Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that attacks either the pleura surrounding the lungs or the peritoneal lining around the stomach. This cancer is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Symptoms usually don’t appear for a long time taking as long as 20 to 30 years after exposure.
The mesothelioma prognosis is generally not very good, with most patients who develop the disease living from only six months to two years following diagnosis. While treatment is available, symptoms tend to appear when the cancer is advanced and there is little the physician can do.
This type of cancer is being diagnosed more often. Patients who worked in industries that used asbestos are just now starting to experience the onset of the symptoms of the disease. The disease is most commonly found in the lungs’ outer lining, but may also manifest in the lining of other organs in the body, including the abdomen.
The more quickly a person is diagnosed and treatment started, the higher their survival rate. This can be difficult since many of the symptoms of mesothelioma resemble those of other common illnesses, including pneumonia and the flu. Patients with mesothelioma will usually experience shortness of breath, chest pain, fluid in the chest wall and around the lungs, and weight loss.
The prognosis for the disease is not as grim as it once was with patients living two years on average following diagnosis. There are even reported cases of patients living up to twenty years, but this is not common.
A patient’s prognosis will depend on when the disease was discovered. The cancer stage, the amount of fluid present, the size of any tumors, along with the health and age of the patient can all impact the patient’s prognosis.
Diagnosis and prognosis will depend on a series of tests and a physical examination. The patient’s physician will use the results of these tests and examinations to determine both treatment and prognosis. Using the results of these tests and examinations, the physician will determine the type of cancer and the stage of its development.
Even when diagnosed in the early stages, patients with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma often receive a poor prognosis. Available treatment options generally help relieve symptoms and pain but are not effective at delaying or curing the cancer. The prognosis will vary from patient to patient as will the prescribed treatment.
It is difficult for a physician to accurately diagnose the stage of this type of cancer. This can make it also difficult to provide an accurate prognosis. Early detection improves these results, which is why it is so important to discuss any symptoms with a doctor as soon as they start. Early detection does improve the prognosis. It also helps if the patient is in good overall health. When a patient is healthy, their immune system is stronger increasing their ability to handle the treatment and fight the disease.
A mesothelioma prognosis is often grim. If the disease is discovered early and the patient is in good health, it can improve the patient’s prognosis and they may live several more years.