Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused due to asbestos exposure. There are different types of mesothelioma cancers based on where the tumor exists in the body.

However, the most common type is Pleural Mesothelioma, which affects the tissues around the lungs.

Other types of mesothelioma cancers affect the tissue of the heart, testicles, or abdomen.

Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma can be quite scary and a heartrending experience. Although it is terminal, several steps can be taken to improve the patient’s quality of life and long-term expectancy.

Here are some steps that people go through after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Prognosis 

Disease prognosis is the most likely outcome or its predicted course. The prognosis for mesothelioma is based on the mesothelioma type, cell type, location, and stage.

However, prognostic results are often poor, as mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer.

Moreover, due to its nature, mesothelioma is usually detected after it has reached an advanced stage. When it’s diagnosed, the likely course of action is to arrest its development.

The average mesothelioma survival rate after diagnosis is one year.

However, some patients do survive longer–up to five years or even longer in some cases.

Treatment 

Mesothelioma prognosis can be improved with the help of different treatments. Your medical team decides which treatment option is better for you.

However, patients usually respond well to multimodal therapy.

Here are some of the treatment options available to improve your prognosis and increase life expectancy.

Surgery

Surgery is the likely course of action when mesothelioma is detected at an earlier stage.

If the tumor is removed at this stage, the result could be a complete cure.

However, it is not possible to remove every tumor mass in most cases. So, surgery can help reduce symptoms and improve your survival rate.

However, there is always a chance of cancer recurrence.

Chemotherapy 

During chemotherapy, patients are given chemicals that are effective at killing off the cancer cells.

The cancer-killing medications slow down the growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy can either be used as a separate treatment, or along with surgery to target any tumor mass that might have remained even after surgery.

If it is used in combination with surgery, it can be administered either before or after surgery. Moreover, the drugs may also be administered directly into the abdominal or pleural cavity during surgery in case of peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma.

This procedure is known as intracavitary chemotherapy.

On the other hand, systemic chemotherapy is administered through an IV, a pill, or an injection.

Administering drugs allow them to travel through the bloodstream. The treatment is effective but has several side effects.

Radiation

This treatment method makes use of radiation to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells.

It can help prevent the cancer from spreading and increase life expectancy. However, radiation treatment is effective only for pleural mesothelioma.

So, if a patient suffers from pleural mesothelioma, they will most likely have to undergo radiation therapy.

Additionally, radiation may also be used in combination with surgery and chemotherapy.

Radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells. The cells begin to die and are unable to replicate.

However, radiation is most effective for fast-growing cells which are mostly located in the skin or bone marrow.

On the other hand, radiation takes longer to kill slow-growing cancer cells.

Immunotherapy 

Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment for mesothelioma. This method uses the patient’s own immune system to target and kill off cancer cells.

Our bodies have the natural ability to fight off pathogens, such as infection-causing viruses.

Similarly, immunotherapy improves the immune system’s ability to identify and target cancer cells. However, immunotherapy’s success rate varies for every patient.

Lifestyle adjustments

The treatment you receive for battling against mesothelioma depends upon different factors.

However, a healthy lifestyle can help you overcome several of the obstacles that you may face during your fight against the cancer.

Here are some lifestyle changes that can help you cope with the negative effects of treatments and will boost your overall well-being.

  • A healthy diet can help you get adequate nutrition. Good nutritious intake can make you stronger and help you overcome the weakness and fatigue caused by different treatments.
  • Engaging in light exercises, such as yoga or stretching, can help improve your blood flow. Moreover, exercise is also an excellent way to relieve stress and relax.
  • Taking care of your mental health is also important as it can have a great influence on your physical health. It is important to communicate your feelings with your loved ones. You can also seek professional help.
  • Last but not least, it is crucial to avoid active and passive smoking if you have pleural mesothelioma, as it can make it worse.

Who is at risk of developing mesothelioma?

Almost 3000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the United States. The primary cause for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a material that is mostly used in construction and building materials. Although it was commonly used in the past, asbestos has been red-flagged by different regulatory bodies for its harmful health effects.

Asbestos microfibers are light and stay airborne for a while. They can easily be inhaled or ingested by people unsuspectingly exposed to it.

When these microfibers are inhaled, they get lodged in the lungs’ lining. This leads to scarring and inflammation which ultimately causes mesothelioma.

Almost all companies in the United States stopped using asbestos after the 1980s. Law requires employers to provide safety equipment to the workers in the field as a precaution against hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

However, many people are still at risk of developing mesothelioma thanks to their occupations.

Here is a list of high-risk jobs that may lead to asbestos exposure:

  • Construction
  • First responders
  • Farmers
  • Engineers
  • Miners
  • Military veterans

Concluding thoughts 

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is primarily caused due to exposure to a toxic material known as asbestos. The type of mesothelioma depends upon the location of the tumor in the body. However, the most common types are pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, which occur in the lungs and abdomen, respectively.

Although the survival rate for mesothelioma is one year after the diagnosis, various treatments can help improve your chances of survival for longer. There are different treatments available for the cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Your doctor may also recommend a combination of treatments according to the stage of your disease.

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By SARAH