Factors That Influence Mesothelioma Prognosis
A prognosis is a doctor’s assessment of a medical condition, including how it will progress and, in the case of mesothelioma and other incurable diseases, the patient’s life expectancy. When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the doctor schedules a meeting with the patient to discuss the diagnosis, the patient’s condition, the course of treatment, life expectancy, surgical options, and the expected outcome of the treatment regimen.
Early detection is the best possible scenario, but in cases of mesothelioma, early detection is extremely rare. The average age of newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients is 55, and most of them were exposed to asbestos some 15-40 years prior to diagnosis. If the patient is already showing symptoms, it may be too late for most treatment options. Symptoms do not appear before the disease is in the advanced stages. Statistics furnished by the American Cancer Society state that men are five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than women. This may be due to the workplace exposure factor. Men overwhelmingly staff the jobs highest on the list for asbestos risk.
Younger and healthier mesothelioma patients have a better survival rate and are better able to withstand aggressive treatment options, like lung tissue replacement surgery. The stage of the disease is important to the prognosis as well. The earlier any cancer is caught, the more likely treatment will be effective.
How Mesothelioma Prognosis is Determined
During the testing phase after a doctor narrows a diagnosis to mesothelioma, a number of tests are performed to determine how far the disease has progressed and the extent of the damage. If the tumors are limited to one organ or body area and have not metastasized to other areas of the body, the Mesothelioma prognosis will be much brighter. A patient can live with one lung, for example, but if tumors cover both, options are far more limited. Unfortunately, this scenario is rare because mesothelioma is so difficult to detect before the final stages. Options are usually limited, and many patients have a life expectancy of about a year following diagnosis.
Before the doctor gives the final assessment, he studies the medical and family history of the patient, and considers the patient’s age and overall lifestyle. A healthy diet and regular exercise positively influence both life expectancy and the course of treatment. Smoking, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyles have a negative influence on the Mesothelioma prognosis.
The type of mesothelioma is also important to the prognosis. The size of the tumors and their location within the body determine whether surgery is an option. If the tumors can be removed by surgery, the prognosis is far more positive.
After all things are considered, the doctor is ready to make an informed prognosis.
What to Expect During the Mesothelioma Prognosis
The purpose of the mesothelioma prognosis is to inform and prepare the patient. The doctor delivers the mesothelioma diagnosis, along with the stage of the disease and what this means for life expectancy. He will discuss different patient options and alter the course of treatment based on the wishes of the patient. Aggressive treatments may prolong life, but the patient must weigh the risks and the benefits and decide which course of treatment is preferable. Many mesothelioma patients are too sick or unhealthy to withstand the harsh cancer treatments and the doctor will advise that the best option is palliative care to make the patient as comfortable as possible.