Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer. It bides its time in the mesothelial lining of major organs, multiplying and moving to other places slowly and steadily. The worrisome symptoms of the disease appear after decades but, by then, the damage is done.
Immediately after the diagnosis, doctors advise the patients to start the treatment. They usually favor aggressive forms of therapies due to the nature of cancer. The treatment stage is difficult for both the patient and their loved ones.
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Is mesothelioma fatal?
The simple answer to this question is “yes!” Mesothelioma is fatal.
All the statistics point out that the average life expectancy after the diagnosis is 2-5 years. However, many factors come into play here. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need to consider these five things before starting treatment.
1. Prognosis Depends on Many Factors
After diagnosis, doctors will assess your condition to give you a general idea of how this disease will proceed. This is called a prognosis. The internet is full of scary numbers and research on the survival rates of mesothelioma, so you are advised to consult your doctor for details regarding your condition.
Prognosis may vary from patient to patient due to the following factors.
- Location: If mesothelioma is detected in the lining of your lungs, you may have a good prognosis. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 75% of the total cases and has a better chance of survival. Mesothelioma in your abdomen has a poor prognosis.
- Stage: Early detection is crucial for a better prognosis. If mesothelioma is at stage 1 or stage 2, it has a better chance to go into remission and increase life expectancy.
- Age: If you get diagnosed at a younger age, your prognosis will look good as you can alleviate symptoms by adopting an active lifestyle and healthy diet.
- Gender: According to studies, men often have a worse prognosis than women. While scientists speculate that genetic factors have a considerable influence on this, a primary reason is that men have a higher prognosis due to working in industries—construction, military, industrial plants, manufacturing—that pose high asbestos exposure risk.
2. Keep a Healthy Diet
If you are starting treatment for mesothelioma soon, make sure you improve and modify your diet. Cancer therapies are rigorous and can be exhausting. The side effects of such therapies include nausea and loss of appetite.
Additionally, the treatment can drain your body’s energy. You may lose a considerable amount of body fat during treatment. A healthy diet can reduce the side effects of mesothelioma therapies while also keeping you replenished. As a mesothelioma patient, it can be challenging to take a nutritious diet, so make a plan for your daily meals. To stay healthy, include food rich in protein and calories like eggs, fruits, dairy, and whole grains.
To keep your diet balanced and rich in nutrients, you should consult a dietician specializing in mesothelioma diet plans. Some food items might make you more nauseous than usual. Make sure to keep your dietician informed so they can devise a food chart that best meets your needs.
3. Traditional Treatment is Not the Only Solution
Traditional therapies include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. They are most widely used to treat cancer and are known to be quite vigorous and aim to kill the cancer cells in the affected organ. Due to their effectiveness, many oncologists start mesothelioma patients on these therapies immediately after diagnosis.
Some people don’t respond well to traditional therapy, which is normal. They may face worse side effects from the radiation, medication and drugs.
Before you start chemotherapy or radiation therapy, explore other options. Many other therapies help to cope with the side effects so your body can respond to the traditional treatments.
- Immunotherapy: This therapy boosts your immune system so your body can identify and kill the cancer cells.
- Acupuncture: The ancient Chinese technique helps relieve pain by inserting needles into the skin.
- Meditation: Yoga and meditation help mesothelioma patients regain their focus and keep them healthy, both emotionally and spiritually. This helps them fight off the side effects due to traditional therapies
4. Remission is Possible
Mesothelioma is incurable. Once you are diagnosed, you live with it for the rest of your life. However, intensive therapies can cause cancer to go into remission.
Remission is the state of cancer in which the symptoms are reduced or disappear completely. Many patients have a poor prognosis at the start but manage to achieve remission that lasts for years. If the cancer is caught early, remission is relatively easy to achieve.
Mesothelioma patients can achieve partial remission by undergoing aggressive therapies over the years. This means that their symptoms are decreased but not entirely gone. Full remission is also possible, which means the symptoms have disappeared completely.
The best way to achieve remission is through surgery. If mesothelioma is diagnosed at early stages, surgeons remove the cancer cells that line the organs. To achieve long-term remission, surgery is usually followed by a low dose of radiation.
5. Mental Health is Necessary
After diagnosis, it is only natural to feel hopeless and completely alone. However, these feelings can lead to depressive episodes that may clash with your treatment.
Take care of your mental health along the way. Getting help from mental health counselors may help you deal with your emotions. Look for support groups where you can share your mesothelioma experience and listen to others. Studies show that hopeful and energetic patients tend to respond to their treatments better.
Mesothelioma is unforgiving! Scientists are still struggling to find a way to contain this disease indefinitely. Many clinical trials are ongoing and researchers are hoping to find a breakthrough. By becoming a part of clinical trials, you can make your contribution towards mesothelioma study. Train yourself to think outside the box. After all, many mesothelioma patients manage to outlive their predicted life span. If they can do it, so can you! All you need to do is stay positive, undergo treatment, and hope for the best.