How long do I have to live? That’s probably the first question you’ll ask when your doctor diagnoses you with having mesothelioma. If this were a few decades ago, the answer wouldn’t be favorable. But with advanced medicine, you can now expect a better prognosis. Of course the answer won’t be exact—you’ll be given a rough idea based on what stage of mesothelioma you’re at with an examination and imaging scan, and the average survival rates of others who’ve had your disease.
Some patients continue to live for several years despite being assessed as having only a few months to live. Your doctor will also recommend treatments that could help improve your condition as well as possibly prolong your life.
What your life expectancy depends on
Age: The older you are, the lower your survival rate.
Gender: If you’re a female, you’ll have a slightly better prognosis over a five year period than if you were a male.
Your “Performance Status” (PS): This is how your activity levels have been affected by mesothelioma. 0 means that you are as active, more or less, as how you were before your diagnosis. The higher the number, the less active you’ve become because you’ve succumbed to the symptoms of your disease.
Blood: Your blood will be checked, and if your hemoglobin levels are normal, along with your white blood cell and platelet counts, you’re in better condition.
Tumor cells: There are three types of mesothelioma cells: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. The presence of epithelial cells has the most favorable outlook, while sarcomatoid cells have the least. Biphasic is a combination of both epithelial and sarcomatoid.
Your general health: If you have don’t have any other chronic health problems than your survival rate is better than those with other problems. In addition, statistics show that significant weight loss and chest pain decrease life expectancy.
How to extend your life expectancy
Mesothelioma is considered a fatal disease, but you can help improve your condition and possibly extend your prognosis by seeking the medical expertise of a specialist. Your specialist will help design a treatment plan for you that won’t cure your disease, but could reduce the severity of your symptoms so they become more manageable. This will allow you to live your life more comfortably. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and clinical trials may be prescribed.
You can also help improve your condition by doing the following:
- lead a healthy lifestyle
- stop smoking and other unhealthy habits that could worsen your symptoms
- cooperate with your doctor by describing your symptoms, keeping records of how you feel, and maintaining an honest and open line of communication