Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and incurable cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma typically have a short life expectancy, often measured in months rather than years.
The average life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient is 4 to 18 months following their diagnosis, or 12 to 21 months with treatment. Only about 10 percent of patients reach the five-year survival mark, and very few patients survive for more than 10 years after diagnosis. Early detection and treatment of the disease can make the difference between short-term and long-term life expectancy for some patients.
There are a number of factors that can impact a patient’s prognosis and their expected survival. The pathology of the disease can present differently in patients; there are multiple types of mesothelioma tumors, including epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Approximately 50 percent of cases involve epithelial tumors, which give patients a better prognosis than other types.
Mesothelioma Type and Stage
The location of the tumors also makes a significant difference. The majority of patients suffer from pleural mesothelioma, which is the most well-understood form of mesothelioma and infects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. About 75 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients survive for at least one year, and patients who undergo surgery have an average survival of three years. Less than 10 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients reach five-year survival.
The second most common type is peritoneal mesothelioma, infecting the peritoneum, or the lining of the stomach and abdomen. This area is easier to reach for surgery, and approximately 50 percent of peritoneal mesothelioma patients reach the five-year survival mark. A very small number of patients suffer from pericardial mesothelioma, presenting in the lining of the heart, and most of these patients survive less than one year. Approximately five percent of patients have been diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma, which infects the lining of the testes and has an average survival rate of 20 to 24 months .
One of the factors in determining prognosis is the stage of the disease when diagnosed. In early stages, when tumors are still small and localized, the disease is much easier to treat. Patients in stages 1 and 2 may still be eligible for surgery, which has been shown to improve a patient’s survival by up to two years. Once patients reach stage 3 and 4, the disease has typically metastasized to other systems in the body, and patients have fewer treatment options.
Early diagnosis is key, but this is difficult for a number of reasons. Mesothelioma has a long latency period. When a person is exposed to asbestos, the asbestos particles become lodged in the chest cavity and remain there for decades before eventually developing into tumors. Once mesothelioma tumors begin to form, however, they grow and metastasize very quickly. Mesothelioma is also difficult to diagnose, as early symptoms mimic other conditions, such as the flu, pneumonia, or COVID-19, and many patients do not get a conclusive diagnosis until stage 3 or 4.
Other Factors Impacting Life Expectancy
A patient’s overall health can have a significant impact on their life expectancy. Mesothelioma patients tend to be older due to the latency period of the disease, and they may face more challenges. Younger patients may be eligible for clinical trials and other novel treatments, and they may be less likely to face complications from surgery.
Gender can also play a role, as women typically have a better outcome than men. Multiple studies have shown women with the same pathology having better survival rates than men. Patients who have other conditions, such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease, or obesity, may also have lower survival rates.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Shein Law Can Provide Legal Help After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Though survival rates have improved over the last 10 years, there is still no cure for mesothelioma. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos disease, speak with one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we provide comprehensive legal representation to mesothelioma patients and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case.