Learning about your mesothelioma diagnosis can be difficult. The thought of the disease may fill you with fear, anxiety, and apprehension. It’s normal to worry about your life, but educating yourself instead of sinking into despair can help you deal with these complex feelings.
Reputable medical research may inform you that the average survival rate for pleural mesothelioma for the next five years is about 12%. However, these numbers are flexible, especially if you seek early treatment. So, the moment you learn about your health status, begin researching your treatment options and learning about the disease’s prognosis.
To help you, here are some facts about pleural mesothelioma:
What Is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is a type of cancer that grows around the lungs. The symptoms of this disease cannot be ignored since it affects a major organ. You might feel tired, breathless, and even cough up blood.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma cancer, occurring in three out of four cases. Doctors have ample experience in dealing with this disease due to this high incidence rate.
However, the timeline for this disease is short. So, it is better to get the diagnosis done as soon as you suspect the symptoms. Once diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, they need to discuss their options immediately. After diagnosis, the average life expectancy is about one to two years which can only get extended if you treat the tumor.
What Are The Survival Rates of Pleural Mesothelioma?
Survival rates inform you about the percentage of people living with the same type and stage of cancer as you. Doctors compare cancer spreading patterns to a certain timespan to determine the likelihood of survival. Although survival rates are estimates, they can give some insight into the course of your illness.
Here’s what the survival rate for mesothelioma looks like for the next five years:
- Localized Spread
Localized cancer infers cancer that is limited to one region. In this case, it is limited to the pleura. If you have localized pleural mesothelioma, you have an 18% chance to live for the next five years.
- Regional Spread
Regional cancer occurs when cancer spreads to nearby structures and impacts other regions such as the lymph nodes. If you get diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma spread regionally, you have a 12% chance of living in the next five years.
- Distant Spread
Cancer that affects distant body regions, such as the liver and the bones, is a distant spread. You have a 7% chance of surviving if you have distant cancer.
While these numbers look worrying, they only showcase the survival rate after diagnosis. Considering the risk factors contributing to the illness, you could have a longer life expectancy by minimizing those factors. So, to help you get the complete picture, you should look into the factors that can exacerbate your illness.
Risk Factors That Contribute To The Cancer
A number of factors are related to the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma and may accelerate your chances of developing the disease. Your doctor will also consider these factors when evaluating your case:
- By Stage
If you get diagnosed late, chances are the cancer cells would have already spread in your body. Early diagnosis is key. Stages such as the first and the second are easier to treat. The cancer cells are concentrated on one region and get scraped easily. Stages such as the third and the fourth are dangerous. It is risky to start treatment now since the cells may have spread far and wide, encompassing many organs. So, make sure you understand the stages and seek help accordingly.
- By Occupation
If you worked in companies that handled asbestos and didn’t have protective gear, you would experience high asbestos exposure. Professions such as engineers, firefighters, and industrial workers deal with asbestos immensely. These fibers get lodged in your lungs and gradually start impacting them. You soon experience symptoms such as breathlessness and need to see a doctor.
- By Gender
Men have a higher risk of getting mesothelioma than women. While there is no clear scientific explanation as to why sociologically, occupations get considered. Men work in asbestos companies more than women, making them prone to higher exposure.
- By Age
If you’re an older person, the chances of you getting pleural mesothelioma are higher. The reason is that asbestos fibers take time to accumulate in your lungs. When you get older and cross the 50-year mark, there are enough fibers in your lungs to make you sick. However, in some cases, you can get symptoms when you are young. But, you have a higher chance of recovering than older patients.
- By Ethnicity
White communities have a higher chance of getting pleural mesothelioma than others. Almost 90% of the white population gets mesothelioma, followed by 5.5% of Hispanics getting the illness. Black and Asian communities show negligible results when it comes to pleural mesothelioma. A doctor can best explain why specific communities are at a higher risk.
Ways to Improve Mesothelioma Survival Rates
You still have an opportunity to improve your survival rate by seeking help. Though you might feel scared and worried dealing with such a painful illness, a little courage will help. The following are some methods you can use to treat mesothelioma.
- Seek Care From Specialists
Mesothelioma specialists know the disease well. Since mesothelioma cancer is rare, it is best to work with those who deal with these limited cases. You can ask them for advice about the treatment options that are most suitable for you based on the prognosis of your illness.
- Make Lifestyle Changes
Your lifestyle contributes to your well-being. Choosing a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, more exercise, regular checkups, and no smoking can improve you. Your overall health is a combination of many factors. While medical help is available, you can’t discard the importance of a well-structured lifestyle.
- Try Clinical Trials
You can try clinical trials to alleviate your condition. Clinical trials are experimental drugs that are still under research and haven’t entered the mainstream market yet. However, substantial evidence is available that makes these trials safe and suitable for you to try. Examples include immunotherapy, where your immune system is manipulated through drugs so that it can identify and eliminate cancer cells.
A cancer diagnosis can frighten you, especially if it is a rare and aggressive form of cancer like mesothelioma. It also doesn’t help that statistical statistics are less than encouraging regarding life expectancy. However, you shouldn’t get disheartened. These stats only apply to mesothelioma cases after a diagnosis.
If you get treated and restructure your life to facilitate your illness, you change your survival course. So, if you get a mesothelioma diagnosis, don’t hesitate to tap into your resources and get help. You never know if your choice to seek help and treatment helps you improve your life expectancy.