Cancer can be a nightmare. Its adverse impact is not just restricted to a person’s physical health but also their mental well-being. People tend to lose their hope when it comes to this fatal illness that has no proper cure.
Among the many types of cancer, mesothelioma is one rare type that is nonetheless fatal. The life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis is usually 4 to 18 months.
Causes and Symptoms
The only known cause of mesothelioma is the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The fibers form a lining on the organs such as the heart, abdomen, or lungs, which results in inflammation and scarring. Extreme exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma. The symptoms of mesothelioma are not subtle, yet they are often confused with seasonal flu. Initially, patients suffer from chest pain, breathing issues, and cough. Gradually, they face trouble swallowing food due to scarring and inflammation.
Age Limit of Mesothelioma Patients
Even though mesothelioma has no age limit, it is frequent among people above the age of 45. It is a critical condition that cannot be ignored. That is why healthcare recommends avoiding asbestos exposure at all costs. If the workers have to work in an area containing asbestos, they need to take proper precautionary measures too.
Doctors have introduced several treatments and methods for this malignant tumor. These treatments have been effective in reducing the risks and increasing the life expectancy of the patients. The most recommended mesothelioma treatments include chemotherapy options and surgery.
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Surgery is ideal for patients who are recently diagnosed with mesothelioma. It not only increases their chance of living longer but also improves their quality of life. Doctors ensure that visible tumors can be removed through surgery, and the patient is relieved from the initial symptoms.
Moreover, there are two types of surgeries; Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) and Pleurectomy and Decortication (P/D). EPP is specifically carried out to remove the diseased lung. On the other hand, P/D is a two-part surgery that removes the pleural lining and cancerous tissues after opening up the chest.
Over the past few years, chemotherapy has taken over the preference of both patients and doctors. These options are not only reliable but also successful in combating cancerous cells. Patients are often paranoid about surgery, especially those of a certain age limit. Therefore chemotherapy is a more comfortable option for them. This method is equally successful in extending the survival rate of the patient. It increases the life expectancy rate by 3% in comparison to those patients who do not opt for it.
For mesothelioma patients, a combination of two drugs, Cisplatin and Pemetrexed, is induced in the body that kills cancer cells and helps the patient fight cancer. If the patient opts for surgery as well, neo-adjuvant therapy is conducted before the process to shrink the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. After the surgery, the remaining cells are killed with the help of adjuvant therapy. This option is highly recommended to ensure that the cancer cells would not grow back.
- Radiation Therapy
As mentioned before, in most cases, aged individuals cannot bear the stress of surgery. Therefore, radiotherapy is among the most effective treatment to deal with mesothelioma. However, it is also considered the last resort to control the symptoms of the tumor.
The high-energy X-rays are quick in reducing discomfort and chest pain. They also prevent the cancer cells from spreading and reduce the size of the tumor. In a few cases, a combination of both surgery and radiation therapy acts as a palliative procedure.
As the name suggests, this therapy uses the immune system to treat mesothelioma. This therapy ensures that cancer cells do not produce proteins to blind the immune system cells. Through this mesothelioma treatment method, the patient’s immune system is stimulated to kill the cancer cells. It is also used for treating other types of cancers as well and undergoing clinical trials.
- Targeted Therapy
When chemotherapy does not show positive results, targeted therapy acts as the next best option. In this therapy, drugs are used to target vulnerable cancer cells. These drugs are highly specific and only used for the treatment of mesothelioma. Due to the specifications, this therapy is carried out on the basis of tumor DNA testing. In comparison to chemotherapy, targeted therapy tends to have minimum side effects.
- Factors Influencing The Patient’s Recovery
Regardless of the treatments, there are various factors that affect the process of recovery of a mesothelioma patient. The stage of cancer and size of the tumor plays a huge role. Henceforth, tests need to be carried out in time to avoid any further complications. It is hard to save a life if the patient is at stage III or IV of cancer.
Patients below the age of 45 are at a lower risk, whereas those above 65 have a lower chance of survival. The general health, gender, and overall medical history of the patient also determine whether there are chances of recovery or not. If a patient’s health cannot handle surgery, they must consider chemotherapy options to avoid severe consequences. Chemotherapy comes with some side effects, but it saves the life at the end of the day.
- Mesothelioma Prevention Tips
First things first, make sure to avoid further contact with asbestos. It is recommended to always monitor your air surroundings, especially if you work in construction or military area. Moreover, you should also spread more awareness regarding asbestos hazards.
In the case of confirmed exposure to asbestos, voluntary exercise can play a pivotal role in delaying or preventing mesothelioma. Voluntary exercise has a positive impact on suppressing the tumor and immune function. Although smoking has no direct link with triggering the tumor, it can increase the risk if it is combined with asbestos
Mesothelioma has no cure, but it can be prevented and combatted if treatment is started at the right time. Through certain steps, a patient can get their life expectancy prolonged and quality of life improved.