Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial tissue. While it is most often talked about in the lungs it can affect many different areas of the body. The most common way to contract this is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma life expectancy is different for each individual based on health and location of the cancer. However because symptoms look like many other conditions it is hard to diagnose and most often not caught till later stages.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that lies dormant for many years. Sometimes it will not present for decades. Older people are most likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer. For this reason, telling your doctor of exposure to asbestos right away will help you get treatment faster.
Mesothelioma not only forms in the lungs but can be present in the heart, and abdomen. Each one of these carries a different mesothelioma life expectancy.
The most common form is pleural mesothelioma, 75% of all diagnoses, which appears in the lining of the lungs or pleura. It carries with it a mesothelioma life expectancy of 4-18 mo. Because this is so common form there are more treatment options available.
Symptoms are typical of a cold when they first present however other symptoms include fever, lower back pain, coughing up blood, chest pain, fluid buildup in the lungs, and unexplained weight loss. A chest x-ray is usually used to determine diagnosis. In other cases a biopsy may be needed to determine if mesothelioma is present.
Surgery is an effective treatment. Either the removal of disease lung and lining can be removed or just the diseased lining and visible tumors. In both cases mesothelioma life expectancy is increased.
Chemotherapy and radiation are also common place. Chemo typically is used before and after surgery while radiation pinpoints the tumor leaving the healthy lung unharmed.
Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the peritoneum or lining of the stomach. The mesothelioma life expectancy could be 12 months to 5 years, depending on treatment.
While some symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, anemia and fever, some patients do not have any symptoms at all. Usually a CT scan or biopsy is needed for diagnosis.
Surgery is an effective treatment for early stage peritoneal mesothelioma. Chemotherapy and radiation are often effective and are usually used in tandem with surgery for the best results.
Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the lining of the heart, or pericardium. This type of mesothelioma is so rare that there is not a lot of data or opportunity for it to be studied. Most cases are not found till after the patient has died. Due to its rarity, the mesothelioma life expectancy is about 6 months.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart), heart murmurs and cough.
Treatments include radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery is not an option with this form of mesothelioma due to the delicate nature of the heart.
Research is consistently ongoing to try to find quicker ways of detecting mesothelioma. Research is also underway to find more effective treatment options.