After being diagnosed with Mesothelioma, some of the common questions asked by patients is “how long can I live with mesothelioma?” “What are my chances of survival”? Other patients want to know whether the disease is curable.
Well, the truth about the survival rates of mesothelioma is bitter. The disease is so rare and therefore tends to have much lower survival rates compared to other types of cancers. Also, it’s diagnosed in its late stages in most cases, thus greatly reducing the life expectancy of the patients. The survival rates of the disease are also affected by certain factors such as age, sex, race, genetics, type and location of the cancer, stage of diagnosis including others.
“The good news is that survival rates for mesothelioma patients are improving.”
Median Survival Rates for Mesothelioma
Researchers estimate the median survival rates for mesothelioma to be 12 to 21 months. The rates are also expressed as a percentage for mesothelioma patients who survive their diagnosis at a certain time interval, say 1, 2, and 5 years. This means that some patients survive the cancer 1, 2, and 5 years after diagnosis. In some cases, some patients have even doubled or tripled their survival rates by early diagnosis and following the right treatment program.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates With Treatment
With the right treatment, some mesothelioma patients have doubled and even tripled their survival rates. Various treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, palliative care, immunotherapy and others are focused on prolonging the life of patients, alleviating the symptoms of the disease, and improving their life quality.
Again, the survival rates depend on the mentioned factors. For example, the survival rates for patients in ”Stage 4 mesothelioma” are much lower compared to those in Stage 1. Likewise, older patients have much lower survival rates compared to younger patients.
“The best way to increase your life expectancy is to explore treatment options with an experienced specialist.”
The type of treatment that patients with mesothelioma receive has been found to affect their survival rates. For example, patients who have undergone curative surgery double from an average of just one year to under two years. Patients who have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma increase their survival rates up to 27.5 months after Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery.
Others who have undergone Pleuroctomy with decortications increase their survival rates to about 20 months. Their survival rates are significantly increased after the surgery is combined with either chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Also, patients with Peritoneal mesothelioma have shown incredible improvements after receiving a combination of Cytoreducive surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitioneal Chemotherapy (heated chemotherapy).
Other alternative treatments such as palliative and immunotherapy have also been found to not only prolong the lives of mesothelioma patients, but to also improve their life quality and minimize suffering. Emerging treatments and clinical trials have also proven to be effective in increasing the patients’ chances of survival.
“Peritoneal mesothelioma survivorship has especially shown significant improvement, largely due to new forms of treatment, such as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.”
Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment
The question here is, “what happens if mesothelioma is left untreated?”. Well, just like many other types of cancers, the survival rates are greatly reduced if the patient does not receive any type of treatment. Again, the survival rates may be affected by factors such as the stage of the disease, age, location, and how quickly it metastasizes. Although there are a few cases where the cancer is slow-growing, in most cases however, it grows and spreads very quickly, thus drastically reducing the survival rates.
On average, patients whose mesothelioma is left untreated usually have approximately 6.4 months to live.
Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Survival Rates
As stated earlier, the survival rates for mesothelioma patients are greatly affected by various factors such as;
Age of the Patient – Older mesothelioma patients have lower survival rates than younger patients. Old age comes with a lot of health complications and mesothelioma diagnosis makes it only worse.
“At age 65 or older, survival rates of mesothelioma patients are 5 times better at stage 1 than at stage 4.”
Gender/Sex of the Patient – A research conducted by the National Cancer Institute’s reported that the overall survival rate for women was 13.4% compared to 4.5% for men suffering from pleural mesothelioma.
Race – Research indicates that patients of the African-American descent have 5-year survival rate compared to those of Caucasian descent. In other statistics, white patients account for about 95% of all mesothelioma cases.
Genetics – Various studies have found that the genetics of patients with mesothelioma also affect their survival rates. Patients with genetic mutations of BRCA1-associated proten-1 have been found to have higher survival rates compared to others with the disease.
Stage – High survival rates for mesothelioma are recorded in patients who have been diagnosed at an early age compared to those diagnosed in the late stages. This is precisely because the disease hasn’t had a chance to spread to a point where common treatment options may not be used to eliminate it.
Type and Location of Cancer – The specific site where mesothelioma originates has been found to greatly affect patients’ survival rates. Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have higher survival rates compared to those with pleural mesothelioma. This, however, has not always been the case.
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