The prognosis of mesothelioma is based on a number of factors, including cancer stage, overall health and the type of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer and the symptoms can take decades to appear. For this reason the prognosis of mesothelioma is almost always negative and patients with mesothelioma are often told that they may only have about a year to live.
However, with continued advancements in research and treatment more patients are surviving for longer. Mesothelioma specialists working in leading cancer centres throughout the world are refining surgeries and increasing survival rates. Clinical trials also offer access to emerging treatments that can potentially extend life expectancy.
Mesothelioma patients can also improve their prognosis by making healthy choices and speaking with a specialist about treatment options.
Determining the type of prognosis
There are several factors that can affect a malignant mesothelioma prognosis, including the following:
- Type – Asbestos related cancer comes in several types, each with its own prognosis. Generally speaking, peritoneal patients have a better chance at long-term survival than those with any other type.
- Location – Mesothelioma is also classified on the basis of location. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma, found in the lining of the abdomen, is generally harder to treat than pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lung.
- Stage – Another factor to consider is the size of the tumor and the ‘stage’ of the mesothelioma. Patients with stage 1 or stage 2 (early-stage) will typically have a better prognosis than patients with stage 3 or stage 4 (advanced).
- Symptoms –Patients suffering from serious symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, may have a more negative prognosis, as the presence of symptoms often means cancer has already progressed to a later stage of development.
- General health – Age and lifestyle will also have an impact on the survival rate, with younger, stronger people more likely to survive longer.
How to improve your prognosis
While you can’t change important prognostic factors such as the stage of your cancer and the type of mesothelioma, there are some steps you can take to improve a prognosis including:
Although diagnosis at the early stage can be difficult due to a lack of symptoms, detecting mesothelioma early on, before it spreads into lymph nodes and other parts of the body will help to improve a prognosis. If you believe you have had exposure to asbestos in the past, seek advice from your GP.
Consulting a specialist
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer and very few doctors have seen the disease or have any experience in treating it. Therefore, choosing an experienced mesothelioma specialist is the most important step a patient can take to improve their prognosis.
Clinical trials play an essential role in the development of new treatments and many emerging treatments are being developed and tested through clinical trials at top treatment centres throughout the country. Patients can join a clinical trial to gain access to treatments that can make a difference in their prognosis.
The immune system plays an important role in the defence against mesothelioma. The healthier a person is, the better their body can fight against the cancer. It is therefore important to make healthy choices such as eating well and quitting smoking. Exercising can also help to improve a prognosis.
Treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy may help those suffering with mesothelioma to live longer, as well as relieving symptoms.