At the final stages of mesothelioma, the cancer usually has spread beyond the initial area to surrounding organs. At this stage, the prognosis is often poor and treatments such as surgery are generally not an option. Other treatment options like radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be administered to slow down the growth of the cancerous cells and metastasis. However, most treatments provided to patients at this stage aim to alleviate the symptoms associated with the disease and to relieve pain. From initial diagnosis, the life expectancy of the patient is generally reduced to approximately 12 months. The final stages of mesothelioma as usually considered terminal.
Life Expectancy Estimates for Final Stages of Mesothelioma
Patients facing the final stages of mesothelioma often have numerous questions about the disease, especially how long the final stages are expected to last. The truth of the matter is that there are a number of factors that affect the lifespan of Stage 4 mesothelioma.
When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, their lifespan is drastically reduced. For example, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is approximately 78 years. After being diagnosed with the disease, their lifespan is significantly shortened to approximately 61 years. For younger mesothelioma patients, the average life expectancy is higher compared to that of older patients due to the fact that the overall health of younger patients is much better compared to those in their senior years. Their immune systems are much stronger compared to those of older patients. This is also partly due to the fact that the disease has a long latency period (35-40 years) because the symptoms of the disease take so long to manifest. Most patients are therefore diagnosed when they are already 50-65 years. At the time of diagnosis, the tumor usually has spread to other organs, making it hard to treat, especially with surgery.
Another factor affecting the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients is the location of the tumor. Patients with pericardial mesothelioma often have a shorter lifespan compared to those with peritoneal, pleural, and testicular mesothelioma. The sex of the patient is also a determining factor where women tend to have a higher survival rate compared to men. It’s not entirely clear why, but women are generally diagnosed at a younger age reason being they tend to get regular medical checkups while men are often reluctant.
Other factors such as race, genetics, lifestyle, environment, type of treatment, and diagnosis year may also affect how long a mesothelioma patient diagnosed at the final stages can expect to live.
Early detection is key to achieving a longer lifespan even at the final stages of mesothelioma. If you suspect that you’ve been previously exposed to asbestos, it’s highly advisable to seek medical advice immediately. If the test results are positive for mesothelioma, your doctor will recommend the best treatment before the cancer spreads further.
Final Stages of Mesothelioma- How to Alleviate the Symptoms
Symptoms at the final stages of mesothelioma are often severe and more noticeable than those caused by other stages. This is because at this stage, the tumor has spread beyond the initial area to surrounding organs and tissues. Common symptoms of mesothelioma in its final stages include;
- Pleural effusions- the buildup of fluid in the lining of the lungs.
- Peritoneal effusion,- the buildup of fluid in the abdominal lining.
- Severe chest pain and tightness.
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
- Excessive fatigue
- Night sweats and fever
- Excessive weight loss or anorexia.
- General feeling of discomfort (malaise).
Because it’s usually difficult to treat the cancer in the end-stage, most treatment options, including palliative care, are offered to alleviate the symptoms, reduce pain, and generally improve the life quality of the patient. Your doctor may recommend pain medication, oxygen and respiratory therapies in order to control pain and improve lung function.
Other effective methods to alleviate mesothelioma symptoms include incorporating complementary and alternative medicine therapies in the mesothelioma treatment plan. These complementary and alternative medicine therapies include holistic therapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and Qigong.
Another crucial way to relieve symptoms of final stages mesothelioma is by engaging in regular exercise. When combined with a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can improve your overall health and boost your body’s ability to fight the cancer.
These treatment remedies may not cure the disease, but they can help reduce the effects of the symptoms and help you manage them better.
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