Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and dangerous form of cancer, which usually develops in people who are working with asbestos. It is particularly dangerous because the cancer often takes hold without showing any signs of growth for several years. Unfortunately, once it has reached an advanced stage there is little that can be done to reverse the effects that it will have upon the body. Therefore, it is vitally important to detect the disease as early as possible, preferably before it reaches an advanced stage.
One of the main reasons why most mesothelioma patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage is that most initial stages of mesothelioma do not cause any obvious symptoms. The cancer is normally small in early stages and doesn’t affect the body in the way that larger, more dangerous cancers do. This means that patients in their forties and fifties may find it more difficult to detect their disease. Some experts suggest that this is because early-stage mesothelioma is often not noticed due to the fact it rarely presents symptoms.
As previously mentioned, the average life expectancy of a patient with mesothelioma is around five years. However, the life expectancy can vary significantly depending on the particular type of cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma can have a very high life expectancy if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. Pericardial mesothelioma patients, on the other hand, have a low life expectancy as a result of the increased fluid leaking into the chest cavity from the pericardium.
Another important factor in determining mesothelioma life expectancy is the stage of cancer. There are four stages of mesothelioma, with the first stage the least severe. Patients with only one stage of mesothelioma have a less than average life expectancy. Those with more than one stage of mesothelioma have a very low life expectancy, sometimes as low as three months.
Life expectancy can also be influenced by the type of stage the disease is in. If the stage at the beginning of treatment is stage I, life expectancy can increase quite a bit. However, if the stage at the end of treatment is stage IV, life expectancy can decrease dramatically. Each stage of mesothelioma is diagnosed through a process of testing and monitoring to determine the intensity and rate of cell growth; however, treatment decisions are generally made based on the stage at the time of diagnosis.
Again, the life expectancy results of a mesothelioma prognosis are affected by the stage at the time the diagnosis was made. Most doctors will not begin treatment until the patient’s life expectancy has been determined. This is especially true in patients who have very aggressive cancers. The treatment options available to these patients often mean that they will live considerably less than others with similar cancers. The best prognosis for a patient can be drastically improved if medical treatment is started as soon as the patient’s life expectancy is known.