When diagnosed with mesothelioma, patients and their families will understandably have many questions to ask and feelings to work through.
One of the biggest questions is: “What is my prognosis—or chances for recovery?”
The answer is complicated because there are many factors to consider. And, of course, every case is different. To provide the most accurate prognosis, doctors look at the histories and statistics of other mesothelioma patients.
Many different factors determine a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis, including:
1.) Location and Type
There are 3 main types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma – occurs in the lining of the lung. Patients with this type have the best rate of survival.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma – occurs in the lining of the abdomen and is difficult to treat.
- Pericardial mesothelioma – occurs in the lining around the heart and is the most difficult to treat.
2.) Cell Type
There are 3 cell types—each impacts prognosis differently:
- Epithelial is the most common cell type and accounts for 60% to 70% of mesothelioma cases. This is the least aggressive cell type. Medical professionals have indicted this type responds best to treatment.
- Sarcomatoid is a rare cellular subtype that accounts for 10% to 20% of cases. This is the most aggressive cell type and the least responsive to treatment.
- Biphasic cell type is a combination of both epitheliod and sarcomatoid cell types within one tumor. It is also known as “mixed type.” Biphasic accounts for 20% to 30% of cases. Treatment response varies depending on the ratio of the cell types.
3.) Stage of the Disease
The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the prognosis. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Because mesothelioma symptoms can be similar to those of other, less serious illnesses, including a bad cold, a patient may be misdiagnosed, especially during the earlier stages. In fact, most patients are not correctly diagnosed until the later, more advanced stages of the disease when advanced symptoms more obviously point to mesothelioma.
You’ll likely hear this word a lot when dealing with mesothelioma or other types of cancer. It refers to how much the cancer has spread beyond its original location into other parts of the body. By the time doctors diagnose a patient with mesothelioma, the cancer may have already spread (metastasized). This makes the cancer more challenging to treat.
5.) Patient’s General Health
Typically, younger, nonsmoking patients will live longer with mesothelioma than older patients and those with additional health problems.
Other Mesothelioma Prognosis Factors
With about 3,200 cases of mesothelioma being diagnosed each year in the U.S., doctors are continuing to learn more about how they can help extend patients’ lives through various treatment options. Thankfully, as healthcare professionals develop a deeper understanding of the disease, life expectancy and survival rates are steadily improving.
- Mesothelioma life expectancy – On average, mesothelioma patients survive about 4–18 months after diagnosis. However, some patients have lived more than 10 years.
- Survival rate – Only 10% of mesothelioma patients currently live for 5 years after their initial diagnosis.
- Mesothelioma remission – Most patients never go into remission, but many have lived longer than expected because they received early and effective treatment.
- Mesothelioma survivors – Currently, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. However, many patients have felt some relief from symptoms by combining traditional medical treatments with alternative treatments. This includes following a modified and nutritious diet, and practicing stress-reduction techniques.