Early detection is the best way for patients to avoid a poor mesothelioma prognosis, says the American Cancer Society.
August 25, 2010 – Every year in the United States, approximately 3,000 individuals are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a relatively rare cancer, caused by asbestos exposure, that often comes with a poor prognosis.
Early detection can improve the chances of a good prognosis and the mesothelioma patient’s survival.
When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the doctor will discuss their condition. The best way to avoid a poor prognosis is through early detection, says the American Cancer Society.
Unfortunately, by the time symptoms of mesothelioma appear, the disease has often advanced to an inoperable stage. The prognosis is likely to be better for patients that can be operated on, but that requires the cancer to be caught in an early stage of development.
Prognosis depends on the cancer stage
Mesothelioma doctors address this asbestos-related cancer in terms of the stages of mesothelioma, ranging from Stage One to Stage Four. Once the disease has reached its later stages, treatment options become more limited and less effective.
Mesothelioma treatment options, therefore, depend on what stage the patient’s cancer is discovered in. Treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
When a patient is diagnosed with Stage Four mesothelioma, their health condition often rules out the possibility of surgery. The prognosis is poor and treatment is limited to eliminating pain and improving the patient’s quality of life.
However, no matter what stage mesothelioma is caught at, the disease can still be very hard to treat, making an accurate prognosis challenging. Every case has individual characteristics that make generalizations difficult.
Other factors affecting prognosis
In addition to what stage the cancer is in, other factors that affect the prognosis of a mesothelioma patient include the age of the patient and the type of mesothelioma – pleural, peritoneal, pericardial or testicular.
The average survival times for individuals with mesothelioma have been between four and 18 months. But according to the American Cancer Society, about one out of 10 people with mesothelioma (10 percent) live at least five years after being diagnosed.
That percentage has improved in the last five years, up from nine percent reported at the end of 2002. Throughout the 1990s, it was rare for a mesothelioma patient to survive more than a year being diagnosed.
Thanks to recent mesothelioma clinical trials and research, better treatments have been developed, meaning that the prognosis for patients now may be greater than ever.
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