One of the big questions after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma is, “How long will I live?” Unfortunately, everyone is different, so it is often hard to know for sure. Of course, some patients do not want to know the answer. However, for those who do, there are many factors that can affect life expectancy. In this article we discuss average life expectancy and the factors which can improve it.
There are a number of terms which may be discussed following a mesothelioma diagnosis. These include: life expectancy, prognosis, and survival rate. It is important to remember that these terms are all predictions, and are not concrete.
How is life expectancy calculated?
Life expectancy is calculated based on the average time that other patients with the same disease have lived for. Therefore, it is important to remember that although some people have survived for a shorter period of time than expected, people have also survived for much longer.
What is the average life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient?
Between 2010 and 2014 in England almost 50 out of 100 people survived for one year or more following their mesothelioma diagnosis. However, around 5 in 100 men survived for five years or more after diagnosis, whereas 10 in 100 women survived for the same length of time.
At Asbestos Justice we won a mesothelioma claim for an elderly client who survived for more than five years after diagnosis.
What affects mesothelioma life expectancy?
There are a number of factors that affect a person’s life expectancy following a mesothelioma diagnosis. This includes:
- The stage of mesothelioma: The development of mesothelioma is described in stages from one to four. Stages one and two is when the cancer is contained with little or no spreading. Stages three and four are when cancer is more advanced and has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. The earlier you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the longer your life expectancy is likely to be. Early diagnosis means that you have more treatment options available. This can have a positive impact on your life expectancy.
- Types of mesothelioma: There are a number of mesothelioma types. The most common are pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, and peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients often have a longer life expectancy than those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
- The cell type of mesothelioma also has a bearing on life expectancy. The most common cell-type is epithelioid and this responds better to treatment than sarcomatoid cell mesothelioma. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is usually associated with a lower life expectancy because it is an aggressive form of the condition.
Can life expectancy be changed?
Life expectancy is not a definite and there are things that can increase this.
- Early diagnosis: The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely it is that the mesothelioma will not have spread and more treatment options will be available.
- Treatment: Not everyone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma opts to have treatment, but many of those who do find that it extends their life expectancy. However, some of the treatments (for example, surgery or chemotherapy) can have adverse side-effects. Due to the negative effects that some treatments may have on quality of life, some patients choose not to undergo treatment.
Long term mesothelioma survivors
Life expectancy is just a prediction, and predictions can be wrong. Thanks to medical advances and ongoing research, there are many people now living with the disease long-term.
In 2005, Heather Von St James was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 36. She had a three month old daughter at the time and was sadly given just 15 months to live. She has now survived with the disease for 12 years.
In the UK, Mavis Nye (who kindly shared her story with us back in February 2015) was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma back in 2009. She was given just three months to live, but underwent a gruelling fifteen months of chemotherapy until it stopped working. She was then accepted on the Keytruda trial which resulted in her tumours shrinking. She is now essentially in remission, more than eight years after diagnosis.
The longest recorded mesothelioma survivor is Paul Kraus, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1997 at the age of just 52. At the time he was given just months to live, but through experimental therapies, dietary changes, and alternative treatments, he is still alive today, over twenty years after being diagnosed.
How can we help?
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim please contact us today on our freephone number, 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘contact us’ page, complete the form, and we will be in touch.