Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer which targets the protective lining of the lungs, heart or stomach, is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos, the insulating and building material used ubiquitously throughout the mid-20th century. When asbestos is disturbed or damaged, it releases a toxic dust which, when inhaled, can become embedded in the mesothelium, where it causes the surrounding cells to become cancerous.
Potential Symptoms of Mesothelioma
A tumor eventually forms, though oftentimes decades after exposure, but typical mesothelioma symptoms are nonspecific and are similar to symptoms of other conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, influenza, emphysema, and pleurisy. These symptoms can include breathing difficulties; hoarseness; wheezing; fatigue; pain in the chest, neck, sides or back; unexplained weight loss; night sweats or fever; a persistent and or bloody cough; and difficulty swallowing.
Prognosis and Treatment Options
Even though the life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient can vary, the average is between four and 18 months. Less than 10 percent of patients survive more than two years. However, life expectancy after mesothelioma diagnosis also depends on the type of the disease.
Oncologists use a four-stage plan to determine the extent of the cancer by classifying the advancement of the tumor. In Stage I, the tumor is generally small and localized, and mesothelioma has not yet spread to the lymph nodes. This is the only stage at which mesothelioma tumors are still operable, so a prognosis can be very positive and the potential for a full recovery may be possible. In patients who are diagnosed with Stage I mesothelioma, it is estimated that 50 percent will live another five years if their cancer is treated aggressively with a combination of surgery and either radiation or chemotherapy.
A Stage II diagnosis is considered an advanced stage because it often indicates that the cancer has spread beyond its point of origin. While surgery and other treatments may still be an option, the projected life expectancy decreases to two to four years. Stage III patients are usually diagnosed after symptoms have appeared and the cancer has already reached an advanced stage of development. Options for treatment at this stage are limited to palliative treatments to reduce symptoms, and life expectancy is between six to eight months. These treatments may include massage, hypnosis, acupuncture, or nutritional regimens. In Stage IV, the tumor or tumors are large and inoperable, the cancer has spread to distant locations, including the blood stream and lymph nodes. Though palliative treatments are an option, life expectancy diminishes to fewer than six months following a diagnosis at this stage.
Don’t wait to get help
As mesothelioma is a fast moving disease with a very narrow window for life expectancy and little or no survival rate, you should seek help from qualified, Louisiana mesothelioma lawyers as soon as possible. If you or a loved one is facing this challenge, please call us today at the Law Firm of Landry, Swarr and Canella. One of our asbestos attorneys will help you understand your legal rights and offer the guidance and counsel you need during this difficult time.