Improving or Prolonging Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Though mesothelioma is tough to battle and doesn’t respond to treatments as well as some other forms of cancer, there are still things that patients can do to increase their life expectancy. Every case is different; some things will work for some patients but not others. Nevertheless, close attention to the recommendations of your oncologist should point you in the right direction and hopefully help improve or prolong your life expectancy.

Treatment

Undergoing treatment for mesothelioma is, of course, the best way to improve life expectancy. Because each patient is unique, a variety of treatment options may be offered. Generally, doctors will suggest surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

  • Surgery – Surgery for mesothelioma is generally not curative because of the late stage at which the disease is diagnosed. However, it can be used to remove as much of the cancer as possible. In the case of pleural mesothelioma, this is done via a procedure known as a pneumonectomy, which removes the diseased lung, or an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes the lung and other tissue around it. Both are very serious surgeries that can only be performed on someone in reasonably good health. Other surgeries are used as palliative measures, including thoracentesis, paracentesis and pleurodesis, all designed to lessen symptoms and make the patient more comfortable.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is most often recommended in the treatment of mesothelioma of all varieties. Though there are more than 100 chemotherapy drugs on the market, only a few are indicated for the treatment of mesothelioma. One in particular, Alimta®, is the only FDA-approved drug specifically designated for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. It has indeed shown some promise.
  • Radiation therapy – Radiation has not shown a lot of promise in prolonging the life expectancy of the mesothelioma victim, however, like some aforementioned surgeries, it is often used to relieve symptoms of the disease, which may prompt a slight increase in life expectancy.

If you would like to learn more about current treatment options, clinical trials, or how to obtain financial assistance to help pay for medical costs, please fill out the form on this page to receive a comprehensive and complimentary packet in the mail.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials test new drugs and treatments for various diseases. Each year, there are several clinical trials in progress that are taking a close look at new treatments for mesothelioma. Patients who meet the parameters of the study may opt to participate in a clinical trial recommended by their oncologist. While an increase in life expectancy is not promised, many patients have found that their participation in such trials does indeed buy them some extra time. Because the drugs are new and experimental, clinical trials are not without risk but most patients agree that the advantages far outweigh these risks.

Early Diagnosis

Obviously, the ideal way to improve or prolong the life expectancy of a person with mesothelioma would be to diagnose the disease before it reaches Stage 3 or 4, when treatment options are limited. Researchers are working constantly to find ways to do this.

In 2007, the FDA approved a blood test known as Mesomark®, which uses an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure the amount of Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptides (SMRP) in human serum. The presence of an elevated level of SMRP may indicate the presence of mesothelioma long before symptoms have surfaced. Those who have been exposed to asbestos in the past should take advantage of this test, potentially catching the disease before it has progressed too far.