Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that is the topic of much debate and scientific research. Over the past couple of decades scientists and physcians have worked to compile more concrete information surrounding the cause, prognosis and treatment options of this disease.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that specifically attacks cells lining the mesothelium, which line the lungs, heart and abdomen. Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of this deadly form of cancer, with extensive scientific research demonstrating a causal link.
FREE Mesothelioma Information
2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States alone. While these numbers are fairly large, in comparison to the population this means that the disease is still somewhat rare. However, statistical projections indicate this number will continue to climb in the future.
Average Patient Demographics
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are between 50 and 70 years of age. It is certainly possible for somebody to be diagnosed with the disease if they are not within this range, but this is relatively rare due to the disease's long latency periods.
Historically, men have been more likely to develop mesothelioma due to the disease's tendency to have an occupationally-based causation. Unfortunately, secondary exposure to asbestos can also lead to mesothelioma. Science suggests that the incidence of mesothelioma in women is likely to continue to rise. Currently, women are more prone to paraoccupational secondary exposure when loved ones and family members bring the dangerous fibers home on their clothes and hair. For reasons that are still not clear to researchers, mesothelioma does seem to occur less often in african americans than in caucasians. Occurrence in children is extremely rare but is not unheard of. The causes behind childhood mesothelioma are relatively unknown because exposure to asbestos in this age bracket is very uncommon.
Life Expectancy and Survival Rates
Since it is difficult to detect mesothelioma in its early stages, diagnosis often does not occur until well after the disease has progressed. In many cases, this means that the life expectancy is little more than a year. However, if the disease is diagnosed within the first stage, treatments such as surgical resection of tumors or some organs can cause the survival rate to rise dramatically.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, spreading rapidly from the lungs to the abdomen and lymph nodes. Remission for this form of cancer is rare.
While treatment options have improved drastically in a relatively short period of time, there is currently no known cure for mesothelioma. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can help a patient survive for several years if the cancer is discovered early enough. Combining alternative therapies with these tools has also been proven effective as a palliative form of treatment. Most therapies for mesothelioma are aimed at relieving symptoms and improving the patient's quality of life.
Various mesothelioma patients have survived years beyond their original prognosis by combining chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery with supplements, therapies, and stress reduction. This is referred to as a multimodal approach to treatment and has been widely accepted as the most effective way to combat mesothelioma. Some patients have experienced success and extended survival rates by undergoing aggressive or atypical surgical procedures, such as an extrapleural pneumonectomy. Life expectancy for patients will depend on the overall health of the individual, what stage of cancer they are diagnosed in, and what treatment options their doctor deems appropriate.
Mesothelioma Prevention and Vaccination
Medical experts are currently working on perfecting a vaccine that will help the body fight off the carcinogenic properties of asbestos. Progress has been made in the Netherlands to develop a vaccine that helps the body fight off mesothelioma. This particular vaccine is expected to be most effective for people who have been exposed but currently show no sign of symptoms. Avoidance of exposure to this deadly mineral remains the most effective method for preventing mesothelioma.