A mesothelioma prognosis is usually poor because the late onset of symptoms often delays effective treatment. Patients diagnosed in a late stage live an average of 14.9 months with treatment. Early stage patients who receive surgery survive an average of 22.2 months.
A mesothelioma prognosis is a doctor’s estimation of the likely course the cancer will take for a specific patient. Prognosis includes life expectancy, but it also lets a patient know what symptoms to expect. A patient’s prognosis helps determine their treatment options.
Doctors describe how far pleural mesothelioma has spread in terms of cancer stages, ranging from stage 1 to stage 4. A higher stage number means cancer cells have spread further throughout the body. This leads to a worse mesothelioma prognosis.
Researchers have studied how long past pleural mesothelioma patients have lived to calculate their median overall survival. This is typically measured in months.
The median is the number in the middle of a data set. Half of patients lived longer than the median, and half of patients lived shorter than the median. Recent median overall survival statistics for pleural mesothelioma come from a 2016 Journal of Thoracic Oncology article.
Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma usually does not cause symptoms and carries the best prognosis. Patients in strong health are eligible for aggressive cancer treatments such as surgery.
With surgery, stage 1 patients have a median overall survival of 22.2 months.
Stage 2 patients may begin to experience shortness of breath as the tumor grows around their lung. This is still an early cancer stage, and aggressive treatment plans are recommended.
With surgery, stage 2 patients have a median overall survival of 20 months.
Stage 3 is when most patients start to experience chest pain, breathing difficulty and weight loss. When a patient is diagnosed in stage 3, mesothelioma specialists must evaluate them carefully. Aggressive treatment could do more harm than good.
With surgery, stage 3 patients have a median overall survival of 17.9 months.
Stage 4 pleural mesothelioma usually carries a poor prognosis, with worsening chest pain, breathing difficulty and fatigue. Patients may also experience fever, night sweats and difficulty swallowing. At this stage, doctors usually recommend palliative treatments, which control symptoms.
With treatment, stage 4 patients have a median overall survival of 14.9 months.
A pleural mesothelioma prognosis is heavily influenced by biological factors aside from the cancer stage. The most important of these factors are the cancer cell type and the patient’s age.
Mesothelioma cells can form in different patterns, which determine the cell type of the tumor. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type as well as the easiest to treat. Sarcomatoid and biphasic mesothelioma are more resistant to treatment.
Younger patients usually have a better mesothelioma prognosis. Their bodies have stronger immune systems and a better ability to recover from surgery. More than half of mesothelioma patients under 50 live at least one year after diagnosis, compared to less than a third of patients over 75.
While you can’t control your age, cell type or cancer stage, there are other factors you can take charge of to improve your prognosis. Taking action to optimize your lifestyle and health care team can help you beat the odds and live longer with mesothelioma.
Working with a mesothelioma expert at a specialized treatment center is the best step you can take to improve your prognosis.
Pleural mesothelioma is rare compared to other cancers. Few doctors have the necessary tools or experience to diagnose and treat it effectively. Mesothelioma specialists understand the intricacies involved in ensuring you have the best possible care.
People with early stage tumors and the epithelial cell type can benefit from a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments such as radiation or immunotherapy. This is called a multimodal approach. It is considered the gold standard for pleural mesothelioma treatment.
Median Survival of Pleural Mesothelioma Patients According to a 2011 Study
|With Surgical Treatment||710 days|
|Without Surgical Treatment||288 days|
Patients with late-stage pleural mesothelioma usually benefit the most from palliative treatments. These focus on improving quality of life. Though palliative treatments aim to reduce pain and discomfort, they can also extend survival.
Clinical trials test new and emerging treatment options. The National Institutes of Health maintains a list of clinical trials for pleural mesothelioma in various phases and in multiple trial sites across the U.S.
Many clinical trials test new chemotherapy drugs, new combinations of drugs or new pairings of drugs with other types of treatments. Other clinical trials test the effectiveness of experimental techniques such as immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy and gene therapy.
The healthier you are, the better your body can fight cancer. Having good overall health and physical fitness will also help you endure the side effects of treatments.
Other lifestyle changes that can improve your prognosis include being more active when you are up and getting better rest when you are down.
One of the first steps to improving your prognosis is finding a specialist who is familiar with your specific diagnosis. Our team of dedicated patient advocates will help match you to a doctor based on your diagnosis and location.
Snehal Smart, M.D.
Leading a low-stress lifestyle can improve how your body responds to cancer treatment. Take a look at the stressors in your life and see what you can do to manage them and reduce the frustration and anxiety you experience.
Complementary and alternative therapies come in a wide variety. Some are as simple as working with a personal trainer to create a special diet and exercise plan. Others are based on mystical belief systems that deal with energy fields and the mind-body connection.
Whatever therapy you choose, always be open and honest with your doctors to ensure it won’t interfere with your medical treatment.
The one-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is about 40 percent. Less than half of patients live longer than one year after diagnosis. This is because most cases of mesothelioma are caught too late for patients to be eligible for aggressive cancer treatment.
Mesothelioma survival rates show you what percentage of past patients lived beyond certain milestones after they were diagnosed.
Median Survival of Pleural Mesothelioma Patients According to a 2011 Study
|Stage at Diagnosis||Two-Year Survival Rate||Five-Year Survival Rate|
|4||17%||Less than 1%|
Estimating life expectancy with mesothelioma is complicated. Statistics can only give you a general picture. How long you live with mesothelioma depends on your cancer stage and how well you respond to treatment.
People diagnosed in stage 1 or 2 often qualify for tumor-removing surgery, which offers the best chance of long-term survival. About one-fifth of all patients with pleural mesothelioma qualify for surgery.
A 2016 Clinical Epidemiology study found mesothelioma patients who received no treatment lived an average of four months. In contrast, those who received chemotherapy lived an average of 12 months.
Remission is when a tumor shrinks or disappears from the body. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy can send mesothelioma into partial or complete remission.
Partial remission is when tumor size is reduced by at least 50 percent. Complete remission is rare with mesothelioma, but some pleural mesothelioma patients have lived for years in partial remission.
Unfortunately, sooner or later, mesothelioma usually comes back. This is called cancer recurrence. Certain clinical trials specifically look for patients with a mesothelioma recurrence to test innovative new therapies.
Currently, no pleural mesothelioma prognosis includes the possibility of a cure.
As with any type of cancer, the best doctors can hope for is long-term remission. Pleural mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat, especially because it is usually caught in a late stage.
However, you can take inspiration from the stories of mesothelioma survivors who defied the generally poor prognosis for this disease.
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