Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are confronted with a difficult fact: this rare form of cancer that strikes just 3,500 people per year has no known cure. Despite heroic efforts on the part of scientists and researchers, from the time of diagnosis the illness generally claims its victims within two years’ time, and often less.
Much of the difficulty involved in treating mesothelioma is that this particular form of cancer has proven to be resistant to chemotherapeutic protocols. This is complicated by the fact that it has a latency period that allows it to spend between twenty and fifty years infiltrating the body before it even begins to exhibit symptoms, and those symptoms are often mistaken for other, more benign conditions. Instead of physicians being able to begin treatment, valuable time is often lost attempting cures for illnesses such as pneumonia. It is only when these approaches fail that physicians dig deeper into the patient’s biographical history, discover their exposure to asbestos, and successfully arrive at the correct diagnosis and course of treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for compensation from those responsible for your exposure. There are asbestos trust funds established for the benefit of mesothelioma victims that are valued at over $30 billion to help pay for medical expenses and other damages. Contact us for a free Financial Compensation Packet or to set up a free consultation with one of our professional staff by calling 1-800-706-5606.
Statistics on Mesothelioma
Though mesothelioma is rare, its low incidence rate in no way makes up for its lethality. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 1999 and 2005 there were over 18,000 cases of malignant mesothelioma diagnosed, which represents approximately 14 victims per million people. The survival rate of mesothelioma varies, with some patients succumbing to the disease within weeks of diagnosis and others successfully battling the disease for several years. There are a number of elements that can impact individual survival time, but none of them are absolutely predictive. The disease is frustratingly unpredictable.
If you are a mesothelioma patient, the best way to get a sense of what you can expect is to speak directly to your mesothelioma specialist. They will be able to assess all of the variables that apply to your particular situation, including age and gender, overall health and severity of symptoms. Generally speaking, the younger a patient is at the time of diagnosis and the healthier their lifestyle, the better their chance of longer survival times; the same is true of those who are diagnosed in its early stages, when it has not spread beyond a localized area. Combining an absence of other health conditions and the pursuit of quick and aggressive mesothelioma treatment, these patients have the highest likelihood of living for several years after diagnosis.
Of all patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, those who are male, in good health and between the ages of 25 and 34 have the best chances of survival. Unfortunately, this group is far from representative of the average mesothelioma patients, representing only a small percentage of those diagnosed with the disease. As ages of afflicted patients advance, survival rates decrease: the younger group is most likely to undergo aggressive surgery and to represent the group the 5 to 10 percent of patients that live more than five years after diagnosis. By contrast, the group that is most likely to be diagnosed – those who are white males between the age of 60 and 70 – are not as likely to be eligible for aggressive surgery and may have their outlook further complicated by the presence of other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiopulmonary disease.
Though the 60 to 70-year-old group is most likely to be diagnosed (which is in large part to their high likelihood of having worked in asbestos-contaminated occupational settings), it is the older groups that are most likely to succumb quickly to the disease. Those between the ages of 65 and 74 and between 75 and 84 represent 12,150 out of the 18,069 mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2005, and they tend to die in a much shorter span of time after they are diagnosed.
Trying to predict an individual life expectancy for a person who has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is an impossible task, but researchers have identified a number of factors that play important roles mesothelioma patient life expectancy. The presence or absence of these indicators is important, as they also are taken into consideration when it comes to choosing appropriate treatment options. The factors that are considered most important and predictive include:
- Stage of Disease at Time of Diagnosis – Like other cancers, each patient’s malignant mesothelioma is analyzed to determine its stage, with Stage 1 representing a very localized level of disease and Stage 4 representing cancer that has metastasized and spread to a degree where it is beyond the effectiveness of available protocols. The earlier the stage, the longer the patient’s expected survival.
- Surgical Intervention – If a mesothelioma patient is eligible for tumor removal surgery, there is a higher likelihood that their survival time can be extended. Patients whose disease has spread beyond the ability for surgery to have much effect are likely to die sooner.
- Patient Age – The patient’s age and overall health is highly predictive, as the younger the patient at the time that their disease is diagnosed, the more likely they are to be able to withstand the rigors of aggressive treatment.
- Type of Mesothelioma and Cell Type: There are four different types of mesothelioma. They affect different parts of the body, including the pleural area where the lungs are located, the abdominal cavity, the cavity that holds the heart and the cavity in which the testes are located. Those who have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma generally have longer survival rates, which is in part due to the fact that it is diagnosed and treated more easily. Mesothelioma is also found in three different cell types, including sarcomatoid, epithelial and biphasic. The epithelial mesothelioma cell type has a longer survival rate than the other two types of cancer cell.
Mesothelioma is a disease with a bleak prognosis, but there are a number of individual patients who have notably beaten the odds and lived well beyond the average survival rate. Among these is Paul Kraus, an Australian who was diagnosed with mesothelioma almost twenty years ago and who continues to thrive. Though it is impossible to say what it is about Mr. Kraus that has allowed his remarkable survival, the mere fact of it gives hope to those who are diagnosed today, particularly as researchers continue to search for a cure.
Legal Help for Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma patients have a number of state-of-the-art treatment protocols available to them, but these treatments are costly. There is compensation available to those who have been exposed to asbestos, and our mesothelioma attorneys can help you file a claim to get the justice that you deserve. For free information on the financial compensation that is available or to set up a consultation to speak with one of our attorneys, contact us at 1-800-706-5606. We are here to answer your questions and get you the compensation that you need and deserve.