The aspect of asbestos lung cancer that perhaps makes its treatment the most difficult is the slow rate at which it develops. In most cases, someone with mesothelioma does not receive a diagnosis until decades following asbestos exposure, after the cancer has already progressed and symptoms begin to appear. Many people that suffer from mesothelioma are of an older demographic and may already suffer from other ailments that effect their immune systems or overall health.
Mesothelioma is a serious, aggressive disease that can be very difficult to treat, and the survival rate reflects this.
Most medical literature regards the average life expectancy of people with mesothelioma to be between 4 and 18 months following diagnosis, but fortunately, many people live much longer. 5-10% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are able to live at least five years following their diagnosis.
Since mesothelioma is such a rare cancer, it is difficult to find survival rates that are accurate enough to provide a patient with decent predictions.
There are several factors that can affect survival rates. One of the biggest prognostic factors for mesothelioma is the stage that the cancer is in once it has been diagnosed. Patients who have cancer that can be removed surgically are typically much more likely to survive than patients with inoperable mesothelioma.
Types of mesothelioma with a poor prognosis include cancer at the T4 stage that has progressed too far to be removed with surgery.
There are several other prognostic factors that point to a greater survival rate:
- An ability to carry out everyday tasks
- A younger age
- A lack of chest pain
- A lack of significant weight loss or substantial weight maintenance
- Normal levels of LDH in the blood
- Normal red and white blood cell counts and blood platelet counts
It is important to be aware of your body and keep your doctor in the loop if you have experienced any form of asbestos exposure at any point in your life. By being knowledgeable about the symptoms of mesothelioma and seeing your doctor regularly, the chances of catching mesothelioma early on, at a more operable stage can be increased. Given the aggressiveness and danger of this particular asbestos lung cancer, the biggest factor for increasing survival rates is early diagnosis and treatment. Be sure to get regular physical examinations and scans, and talk to your doctor immediately if you begin experiencing symptoms, such as persistent coughs or chest pains.