Survival rates for those diagnosed with mesothelioma have actually been steadily improving over the past few decades due to new treatments, more research and better funding.
Are Survival Rates Really on the Rise?
If you’ve recently received a mesothelioma diagnosis you should take heart in the knowledge that survival rates are on the rise. There are two reasons the fate of mesothelioma patients is so much brighter than it was just 10 years ago.
One reason is because doctors are getting better at detecting the cancer while it’s still in stage 1 or 2. The second reason for the improved survival rates is that treatments are better and more effective than they have been in the past.
How Mesothelioma Survival Time Gets Estimated
When an oncologist discovers that their patient has mesothelioma they use several factors to estimate the patient’s survival time. These factors include:
- Cell type
- Overall health of the patient
- The location, size, and number of tumors
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are actually living longer today than in the past, and the statistics are there to support these claims.
Don’t Let Current Survival Times Get You Down
When you look at the current average prognosis for individuals who’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The stats aren’t as accurate as they first seem. There are several things that the stats don’t take into account, including:
Newly developed treatments – A great deal of mesothelioma research is underway. Many patients have responded positively to clinical trials which provide innovative means of treatment that can drastically improve your life expectancy.
The location of the cancer – The exact location of mesothelioma tumors have an enormous impact on how successful a treatment will be and whether treatment is even a viable option.
The National Cancer Institute recently conducted a study of patients with pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. At the end of the study it was concluded that the one-year survival time was about 40% accurate. The survival rate of patients after the second year drops to 11%, and the after the third year the decrease is a very small 35%.
This study provides what mesothelioma specialists have always said: that the key to successfully being able to treat the cancer is early detection.
At this point, the difficult to detect pericardial mesothelioma before the cancer reaches an advanced state makes it impossible to create a truly accurate survival time. Many doctors don’t realize that their patient had developed the disease until after the patient has passed away.
Cell Type & Histology and their Impact on Survival Time
When an oncologist determines that a patient has mesothelioma, one of the main factors they use to determine survival time is the type of cancerous cells the patient has. Patients that have epithelioid cells are given a longer survival time than patient with sarcomatoid cells. Patients who have a combination of both cells, a type called biphasic are given a survival time that’s between the other two.
Not only do epithelioid cells spread more slowly than sarcomatoid cells, but they also have the most positive response to radiation and chemotherapy.
The different types of cell is one of the reasons that some patients respond so well to one type of mesothelioma treatment while others respond better to a different type of treatment. A mesothelioma specialist will be able to offer advice about what types of treatments should be considered based on cell type.
The Impact of Age and Gender on Survival Time
As a rule, a patient who is younger when they’re diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer will be given a longer survival time than someone who has passed their 65th birthday. This doesn’t mean that an older patient should allow themselves to think that treatment isn’t an option. It is, especially if other than the mesothelioma, the patient is in really good health.
The Impact of Gender on Survival Time
When it comes to mesothelioma women have a better survival rate than men. Only 6.5% of the men diagnosed with mesothelioma will be given a 5 year survival time, whereas 15.4% of women will receive a 5 year survival time.
Data collected during one study indicates that one reason for the improved survival time of women is due to the fact that they are 20 more likely to visit a doctor than males patients, and the increased doctor visits leads to an earlier detection. Another factor that men tend to be more likely to work in a asbestos heavy environment than women.
The Importance of Catching Mesothelioma in its Early Stages
The earlier the mesothelioma is detected the greater your survival rate will be. Patients who have passed their 65th birthday before they were diagnosed with mesothelioma while it was in stage 1 received a probable survival time that was a full 5 times longer than those who received the diagnosis when the cancer was at stage 4.
Another advantage of early detection is that there are more treatment options which can further extend your life. While treatment is most successful when mesothelioma is detected early, there are clinical trials underway that provide the possible treatment of the cancer while it’s in its late stages.
Surgical Treatments Frequently Improve Survival Times
A patient’s estimated life span will increase a great deal after they have had mesothelioma tumors surgically removed. The three most common surgical treatments are:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) – which is used to treat pleural mesothelioma
- Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) – which is used to treat pleural mesothelioma
- Cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC – which is used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma
These three treatments are used only when patients are still in stage 1 or 2. The surgery, combined with chemotherapy or radiation can double their life expectancy.