Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and just like most cancers, it’s progressive. This means that as the disease advances, cancerous cells begin to spread to other parts of the body.
“Once mesothelioma tumors have formed, the microscopic cells that make up the tumor can spread throughout the body. These cells form new tumors in the body. At this point, a patient’s disease is said to be metastatic.”
The cancer progresses through stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 and eventually spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body. This is what makes it one of the most aggressive and deadliest forms of cancer.
How Fast Does Mesothelioma Spread?
Generally, mesothelioma progresses quickly through the stages and to metastasis. However, how fast the cancer spreads depends on a number of factors including the cell-types, location, the age of patient, general health, and treatment.
Mesothelioma tumors consist of three main cell-types. These include epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic ( a mixture of epithelial and sarcomatoid cells).
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive and tends to progress and metastasis much faster compared to the others. Unlike epithelial cells which adhere strongly to each other, sarcomatoid cells do not cling more strongly to each other and therefore break off from the tumor and spread faster.
Age of Patient
Younger mesothelioma patients with good health are able to withstand aggressive treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy compared to elderly patients, thereby slowing down or even preventing it from spreading.
Also, the immune system of younger patients in stronger and can therefore fight off disease much more effectively compared to elderly patients.
Overall Health of Patient
Mesothelioma patients in good health are able to fight off the diseases and also withstand aggressive treatments.
“Some of the most important facets to good health include diet, exercise, adequate sleep and a low-stress lifestyle.”
Location of Tumor
The location of the tumor largely affects how quickly the cancer develops and spreads.
Pericardial mesothelioma which affects the heart lining, is considered as the most aggressive. This is because the tumor develops in close proximity to the heart and therefore causes the development of immediate complications.
As a result, mesothelioma of the heart lining has a poor prognosis (usually 5-8 months) as compared to pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas.
When caught in its early stages, the right treatment can help slow down/inhibit the progression of the tumor. Such treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Sadly, due to its long latency period, the disease is often diagnosed in its advanced stage, which means that the only available treatment options at this stage are used to alleviate the symptoms associated with the disease.
Slowing Down the Progression of Mesothelioma
The progression and metastasis of mesothelioma is almost inevitable since mesothelioma is a highly aggressive and quick-moving form of cancer that is difficult to cure.
However, various steps can be taken to minimize the spread. They include eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, and quitting harmful habits such as drinking and smoking.
These lifestyle changes may not cure the disease, but can help improve the health of the patient, which can play a very important role in slowing down the progression of the disease and extend their lifespan.