Often, by the time mesothelioma has been diagnosed, the condition is critical. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with this disease is roughly 5% to 15%. Some patients develop a mild, short-term cough with associated breathlessness; others may experience more severe shortness of breath and chest pain. Some patients eventually develop pleural mesothelioma, the most serious form of this disease, which can be life-threatening.
In general, mesothelioma symptoms develop slowly over a period of months to years, and the symptoms may not exhibit themselves until the disease has progressed to a certain degree. Most patients with this condition eventually die as a consequence of congestive heart failure or other respiratory conditions, due to the difficulty in diagnosing mesothelioma at the early stages of its development. Only about one-third of those diagnosed with this condition can accurately be diagnosed at the first stages of this disease. However, because of the relatively slow development of symptoms, it is often not until late in the disease that cancerous cells begin to form.
Because the symptoms of mesothelioma can develop slowly over time, it is also not uncommon for the cancer to be diagnosed in the first stages and then later, when it becomes more advanced, discovered. Unfortunately, most people who are diagnosed with this condition after the condition has advanced to a stage at which a diagnosis and treatment can be expected. If detected and diagnosed in the very early stages of this disease, survival rates improve dramatically. However, because it is such a slow-moving cancer, the chance of full recovery is not as good.
This is why it is so important to obtain a correct mesothelioma prognosis, as this will determine the course of treatment that your doctor will recommend. A prognosis is basically a prediction of where the cancer will be in a specific person's body at a certain point in time, given a number of different factors. These factors include the stage of the tumor, your general health, the extent of your tumors and the extent of your body's resistance to the cancer's effects.
Computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are the most common tools used in this diagnosis. When your doctor diagnoses you with this condition, he will usually order a CT scan and an MRI. These two diagnostic methods are designed to locate the exact location of the affected cell, as well as giving information about the tumors surrounding them. Once these two methods are performed, your oncologist will be able to map the exact causes of your mesothelioma symptoms. This will enable him to determine the best course of treatment for your particular case.
Computed tomography (CT) scan is the most effective method of detecting cancers, as it gives detailed images of the affected tissue. These detailed images show how cancer cells grow, reproduce, and invade surrounding healthy tissue. As these detailed images are produced by a CT scanner, they are extremely detailed and can identify the individual cells that are causing your mesothelioma symptoms. Unlike x-rays, CT scans cannot be used to treat pre-existing cancers or to remove cancerous cells from the lining of the lungs. However, they can identify the presence of small tumors in the lining of the lungs or in the lining of other organs such as the abdomen. This can be very useful when trying to determine the causes of symptoms in patients who suffer from pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, or pericardial mesothelioma.
When your doctor has diagnosed your condition, you will be offered various treatment options, depending on your diagnosed prognosis. Surgery is considered to be the most effective treatment option for those with pleural mesothelioma, as this will remove the cancerous areas of mesothelioma. Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation beams (like x-rays) to attempt to kill cancer cells. Depending on the severity of your cancer, you may need to undergo more than one treatment option. Chemotherapy is usually recommended for patients diagnosed with secondary mesothelioma, as this tries to control your body's immune system so that any future cancer can be prevented.
Although treatment options can be intimidating, talking to your doctor will help you cope with your symptoms and understand them better. Mesothelioma symptoms often resemble those of other health conditions or illnesses, and doctors will often ask you to go through additional tests and gather further information before deciding which treatment is best for you. Your medical records will provide further information regarding your condition and the current status of your mesothelioma, which your doctor will review with you before deciding on a course of treatment. Your doctor will likely offer several suggestions for treatment, but they are based on the type of mesothelioma you have and what stage it is.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.