Determining a prognosis for a mesothelioma patient can be difficult because the condition takes so long to fully develop, making mesothelioma easy to misdiagnose. Plus, by the time the right diagnosis has been made, a patient may only have two to five years to live. However, that isn't the case for everyone, as prognoses depend on a number of factors.
Factors That Affect Your Prognosis
Some of these factors include:
- Stage of cancer – Stage I and II cancers tend to have a better prognosis because they are easier to treat. At this point, the tumors can likely be removed surgically and followed up with chemotherapy or radiation. When mesothelioma is found in Stages III or IV, surgery is generally not an option, as the patient's body may not be strong enough to handle the operation.
- Location of tumors – In earlier stages of mesothelioma, the tumors are localized. This makes it easier for surgeons to remove most or all of the cancer. When the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body, surgery may no longer be possible.
- Type of mesothelioma – Between the different kinds of mesothelioma (pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular), pleural mesothelioma tends to have the best outcome. About 10 percent of patients with this form of cancer live at least five years following a diagnosis.
- Cell type: Cancerous mesothelioma cells are either epithelial (known for their thin, cylindrical shape), sarcomatoid (irregularly shaped but resembling an oval) and biphasic (a combination of the two kinds of cells). Epithelial cells are more common, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases. They also respond best to treatment, increasing the prognosis.
- General health – People who are otherwise healthy and don't have other conditions usually react better to aggressive mesothelioma treatment methods. Their immune systems tend to be stronger and can better fight the condition. Non-smokers have an even better time dealing with the condition and treatment.
- Age – Because of how long mesothelioma takes to develop, about three-fourths of cases are found in people older than 55. People older than this tend to have a harder time handling treatment methods.
Improving a Mesothelioma Prognosis
Many of these factors are out of patients' hands. However, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can still engage in behaviors that that will improve your prognosis sometimes by years.
The first involves getting in touch with the right doctors and cancer centers. That will help you get the best care possible at the right time. You may even be eligible for clinical trials. With more research money going into finding more effective treatments, these trials could result in a breakthrough that could help thousands of people dealing with this illness.
You can also try alternative treatments such as yoga and meditation. These practices can help make patients feel better overall, as these practices fight tiredness and weakness, common mesothelioma symptoms. In doing so, they improve immunity, which means the body has a higher chance of fighting mesothelioma. As a result, these activities can help extend the original prognosis. Before starting these practices, be sure to first talk to a qualified instructor.