If you have just been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can be a very stressful and confusing time of your life. You are faced with concerns that you were unprepared for, “who will care for my family”, “where will the money come from” and, worst of all, “what is the mesothelioma life expectancy”. These very valid concerns are questions that weigh on the mind of every mesothelioma victim and ones that are hard to ease.
One way to begin dealing with the cancer is to learn more about it. This will help you realize the expectations that you should have and to better prepare you for the difficult road ahead. The first thing that you will most likely discuss, is life expectancy. Mesothelioma affects everyone differently and your specific life expectancy will depend on a few questions that your doctor will need to answer. Below are the questions that we will discuss further as we go along.
- What is your overall health?
- What stage of cancer are you in?
- What is the location of the cancer?
- What is the cell type of the cancer?
- How long were you exposed to asbestos?
What is Your Overall Health?
Sadly, only two out of every ten people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma will live past two years. One of the things that can affect this statistic is the overall health of the patient. Those who have a healthier lifestyle and are overall more healthy, tend to have added antioxidants that help them fight off the disease a bit longer than those who do not.
If you are at risk for mesothelioma, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to keep your body healthy in the case that the cancer ever does strike. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and maintaining an active lifestyle are just some of the ways that you can keep yourself healthy. Even after being diagnosed, it is a good idea to try and remain healthy. This will allow your body to fight the disease and keep you strong and steady throughout the entire process.
What Stage of Cancer are you In?
Before being diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will perform a series of tests that will help him to understand what is going on with your body. Typically, a biopsy is performed and tested, which will allow doctors to determine exactly what they are dealing with. They will also be able to determine which stage of cancer that they are dealing with.
Because mesothelioma usually does not begin to show symptoms until later in the life of the cancer, it is a possibility that the cancer will have progressed greatly before you are diagnosed. There are four stages of the cancer, stages 1 through 4 each with different symptoms and progression. Stage 1, for example, the cancer is localized in a tumor, whereas in Stage 4, the cancer has spread to multiple regions of the body. The overall prognosis for the cancer is rather disappointing and the average life expectancy for most patients is usually a year or two, perhaps less for those in later stages of the cancer.
What is the Location of the Cancer?
Another factor that determines the life span of mesothelioma patients is the location of the cancer. If the cancer is localized, it may be possible to remove it from your body by means of surgery. However, this is effected by location because some areas of the body would not allow for surgery. Doctors will perform a series of xrays and scans to help determine the exact location of the cancer. They will then determine if they will be able to remove the cancer via surgery.
Keep in mind that removing mesothelioma by way of surgery is not typically successful. The average life expectancy of a mesothelioma surgery patient is around a year. It may be necessary to perform other procedures to completely eradicate the disease. At times doctors choose radiation or chemotherapy in conjunction with surgery to help raise the success rate.
What is the Cell Type of the Cancer?
There are three main forms of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardinal mesothelioma. Each form is found in different areas of the body and offers different symptoms and prognosis. Below are some of the differences between the three types.
- Pleural Mesothelioma
◦ Accounts for 80% of all diagnosed cases of mesothelioma
◦ Is found in the lining of the lungs
◦ Is caused when asbestos is inhaled into the body
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma
◦ Is found in the abdominal lining of the body
◦ Accounts for 10-20% of all diagnosed cases in the United States
◦ Long term prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma sufferers is less than a year
- Pericardial Mesothelioma
◦ Occurs in the lining of the heart
◦ The rarest form of mesothelioma
◦ Symptoms include chest pains, difficulty breathing and heart murmurs
How Long Were You Exposed to Asbestos?
The length of time that you were exposed to asbestos can also be a factor that determines how mesothelioma effects your body. Those who have been exposed to greater amounts of the mineral may have a shorter latency period and may develop stronger symptoms than those with minimal exposure. It is also possible for family members to develop mesothelioma from having breathed the mineral off the clothing of those who had direct contact.
Even those who did not directly work with the mineral, may be effected by it. Asbestos was used widely in households, workplaces and communities around the nation until it was finally banned in the 1970s. Those who have spent time in buildings with asbestos residue may also be at risk of developing the disease. Regulations have now been put in place that require businesses to safely remove all asbestos from their office buildings.
By having these questions answered, you will better understand the aspects of the cancer and become better prepared to deal with the outcome of this disease. You will also be able to enjoy your time with your family more and have the time to prepare them for the times after the cancer has run its course. Be sure to visit with a mesothelioma lawyer in order to better prepare your family financially for the expensive burden that will be placed on them due to treatment.