Patients learning of a mesothelioma diagnosis will most likely first wonder about the survival rates associated with this type of cancer. Since mesothelioma is such a rare form of cancer, affecting only 2,000-3,000 new people in the United States each year, the specifics of the disease are often unknown to the average person. There are many different factors influencing mesothelioma-related data, so coming to a complete understanding of the survival rate can be challenging.
The latency period for mesothelioma is one of the factors greatly affecting the survival rate. Warning signs typically remain dormant for decades before patients symptoms surface in victims. Therefore, patients may believe that since they have already lived so long with the developing disease, that a life expectancy may be just as long. Sadly, the average patients lives approximately 4-18 months after clinical diagnosis, and only 10 percent of patients live to five years. These grim averages can be blamed on the latency period hiding the disease for so long - the cancer was not detected early enough for effective treatments.
Another factor that may alter the survival rate is the development stage the cancer is in when the diagnosis occurs. As with most forms of cancer, early detection of mesothelioma offers the best possible prognosis. Stage I mesothelioma is typically treated by surgically removing the cancerous cells and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. The surgery is usually followed by either radiation, chemotherapy, drugs, or a combination that gives patients a chance at remission. Determining the stage of cancer can empower the oncologists and patients to select the treatments that will produce the best possible results.
Of course, the age and general physical health of patients, as well as the health of the lung and the heart, always need to be considered when calculating any sort of survival rate. Depending on the health of the patient, certain treatments may not be possible. Some of the treatments are aggressive in nature, and may leave the patients weak and ill, therefore leaving them with few options. Additionally, the size of the tumor must be factored in. This directly refers to whether or not the tumor(s) can be removed, which in turn greatly affects chances of survival.
Existing survival rates and data may be disheartening for patients and their loved ones. However, it is important to remember that although no cure has been found, the medical profession is conducting research constantly. As more and more cases arise, so do the opportunities for studies and research to find new and improved means of fighting mesothelioma. The most common forms of treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, many patients are experimenting with new alternative therapies. There are many palliative treatments available seeking to ease the symptoms of cancer victims; acupuncture, massage therapy, vitamin supplements, meditation, and yoga are frequently used by mesothelioma patients. Although there is little medical data to support these supplemental treatments, a combination of more traditional and alternatives have given many patients peace of mind, assuring them that they are doing all they can. More importantly, implementing a combination tends to maximize on the benefits, while compensating for the deficiencies of the others. Hopefully, as more research is conducted and new treatments are discovered, the survival rate for mesothelioma will increase. Clinical trials can be promising, and offer new methodologies to battle mesothelioma, which can breath new hope into the fight for some patients.