Cancer is arguably one of the most difficult diseases to deal with. It’s hard to detect, hard to cure and can reduce one’s lifespan by quite a bit. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that forms on the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a thin layer of tissue that forms over our internal organs. It acts as a kind of protective shroud. The mesothelium exists in some areas in our body. Today, we’re going to talk about mesothelioma life expectancy without treatment. We’ll discuss what to expect from mesothelioma and how to cope with it. However, before we begin talking about the results of this disease, let’s briefly go through its causes. Developing a better understanding of what you or a loved one is going through is useful. Knowledge helps you better prepare yourself for how to deal with problems.
What is Mesothelioma?
As we mentioned before, mesothelioma is a form of cancer. It forms on the mesothelium tissue present in our body. The type of cancer varies depending on which mesothelium tissue it forms. Mesothelioma is categorized as an aggressive cancer type. It’s also discreet, making it hard to detect until it enters its later stages. For most cases, mesothelioma is detected when it has already entered stage-4 and has become terminal. Due to the cancer’s aggressive nature and its hard detection, patients’ experience a short life expectancy. As little as 10% of cases of mesothelioma manage to live for more than five years.
This cancer is dangerous indeed. However, several factors determine its effects on one’s health. These factors also determine its impact on your overall life expectancy.
Factors That Affect a Patient’s Life Expectancy
There are several factors that contribute to determining one’s life expectancy. This is another reason why mesothelioma is hard to deal with. The cancer’s treatment and possible cures become harder to administer due to various kinds of complications.
First of all, the cancer’s stage makes a huge difference. The earlier a cancer is identified, the quicker it can be controlled and contained. If one can identify mesothelioma in its 1st or 2nd stage, then life expectancy can be improved marginally. During these stages, the cancer hasn’t begun spreading around the body. This makes its removal easier. Once the cancer enters its 3rd and 4th stages, things become harder. By this time, the cancer has begun spreading to lymph nodes. It may also reach organs in the affected area. This makes mesothelioma treatment much harder and less effective as well. Unfortunately, this cancer is usually identified when it has already entered its 3rd or 4th stages.
The location in which the cancer forms has an impact on its curability and impact as well. The mesothelium tissue is situated in our chest, abdominal area and around the testicles as well. Mesothelioma formed on the testicular mesothelium is called testicular mesothelioma. This is the rarest form of mesothelioma and is also the least deadly. People who suffer from testicular mesothelioma tend to have 50% chances of living for up to 5 years. Mesothelioma that forms on the abdominal mesothelium is called Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Depending on its severity and maturity, peritoneal mesothelioma gives you a life expectancy of 1 year to 6 months. The most dangerous form of mesothelioma forms on the mesothelium in our chest area. This form of mesothelioma is referred to as Pericardial Mesothelioma.
The gender, age, and overall health of a patient have roles to play as well. Women tend to live slightly longer than men when affected by mesothelioma. Men also contract this form of cancer more frequently than women. Mesothelioma mostly affects people who are older than 60 years of age. Due to this, mesothelioma patients have a harder time in battling the cancer in general. The older a patient is, the lesser life expectancy they get. This is because more aged mesothelioma patients have weaker constitutions. A patient’s age and overall health are tied to an extent. Patients who are older have poorer health. This makes it harder for them to go through the aggressive treatment options required for mesothelioma.
Another major factor that determines the severity of mesothelioma is its cell type. Mesothelioma is divided into three different cell types:
- Epithelioid mesothelioma is less severe. People suffering from this mesothelioma type can expect a life expectancy of 19 months to 54 months.
- Sarcomatoid mesothelioma has a faster metastasis rate. This makes it more deadly than epithelioid mesothelioma. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma comes with a life expectancy of roughly 5 months to 13 months.
- Bipansic mesothelioma is a mixture of the first two cell types. Its severity and life expectancy vary depending on which cells are more dominant.
The Causes, Symptoms, And Effects of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is caused by mutations in the DNA cells. A variety of factors can cause these mutations. The type and nature of a cancer are determined by the factors that trigger the mutation to take place. Mesothelioma is primarily attributed to excessive asbestos exposure. People who have inhaled asbestos regularly are much more likely to develop mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can be caused by a few other factors as well.
Excessive exposure to asbestos is one of the biggest causes. It’s known to contribute the most to the development of mesothelioma. People who have worked with asbestos and/or lived in environments where asbestos is present are susceptible as well.
Other causes include inherited DNA traits that cause mesothelioma. This cause is common amongst people who have a family history with this cancer. Radiation therapy in the chest area can also increase your chances of contracting mesothelioma.
Depending on which type of Mesothelioma one contracts, the symptoms vary.
The symptoms for pericardial/pleural mesothelioma include:
- Pain when coughing
- Excessive weight loss for no apparent reason
- Experiencing shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest area
- Unusual lumps forming under your chest’s skin
People who are afflicted by peritoneal mesothelioma experience:
- Swelling in the abdominal area
- Random bouts of nausea
- Excessive weight loss for no apparent reason
- Pain in the abdomen
Mesothelioma forming in the testicular area is rare. However, when it does occur, it comes with one noticeable symptom:
- The testicles become swollen, and their mass increases.
The symptoms that come with mesothelioma are quite vague. This is one of the reasons why this disease is rather hard to detect. Visiting a doctor is advised if you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above frequently.
Effects of Mesothelioma
Apart from considerably shortening one’s lifespan, mesothelioma has other effects as well. Peritoneal mesothelioma usually induces the following feelings in the abdominal area.
Mesothelioma of the chest gradually increases the amount of pressure that is being placed on your chest. This results in patients having trouble breathing and swallowing. As the disease progresses, the spinal cord and nerves in your chest may begin feeling strained from excessive pressure. This results in pain in the chest area. The lungs can also begin filling up with fluid, making breathing even harder.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment
Mesothelioma is by no means an easy form of cancer. It’s complicated to treat, and the treatment can be expensive as well. In some cases, the cancer can be removed through surgery. This can increase a patient’s life expectancy by a margin. However, keep in mind that this cancer is malignant. Meaning that it never leaves the body. Due to this reason, many patients think that surgical treatment is not worth it.
A patient that chooses not to undergo treatment for mesothelioma can expect to live for six months. Their life expectancy may vary depending on the factors that we mentioned above.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy With Treatment
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage can have it treated. However, the treatment for mesothelioma is quite aggressive. It involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The treatment also takes time to administer. The time required and the intensity of the surgery makes it hard to handle for elderly patients. Sometimes doctors don’t even recommend surgery if the patient cannot withstand it.
Overall, Mesothelioma is a dangerous form of cancer. It’s malignant, aggressive and hard to identify. It progresses in a manner that makes its removal hard in its later stages. This is because it spreads all over the place. While there are treatments for the disease, they’re equally aggressive and hard to handle. Many patients cannot make it through the long and tolling treatment.