Surviving mesothelioma depends on several factors, such as the patient’s overall medical condition, age, type of mesothelioma, and treatment elected — as well as their level of overall health and fitness. It is important to bear in mind that each individual case is different, and the information below is general and based on large groups of mesothelioma patients.
What Does It Mean to Be a Mesothelioma Survivor?
Someone who is considered a mesothelioma survivor will have extended their survival beyond their life expectancy while undergoing treatments and surgery, taking part in innovative clinical trials, and often blending different therapies.
Survival rates demonstrate the percentage of patients in a treatment group who are still alive for a certain period of time following a diagnosis of mesothelioma — rendering survival different from life expectancy. Life expectancy, on the other hand, is how long an individual patient may be projected to survive.
While the majority of mesothelioma patients do not pass the one to two-year mark, there are survivors that have come to an incredible 10-year mark. They are living proof that it is possible to beat this cancer with effective and diligent treatment.
Patients and their loved ones should always follow the guidance provided by their own doctor to understand how they can improve their mesothelioma prognosis and life expectancy.
Mesothelioma Remission and Recurrence
There are two types of mesothelioma remission as there are with any form of cancer: full and partial.
Full remission indicates that all symptoms have disappeared and any sign of remaining cancer in the body has vanished. It is not, however, the same as cure.
While complete remission in malignant mesothelioma patients is rare, it is possible.
It is important to note, however, that while in such cases a doctor may not be able to detect cancer cells with imaging studies, microscopic cancer cells may still remain in the body and there can be no full guarantee that the mesothelioma will never return.
Partial remission indicates a significant improvement in the patient’s cancer but not a complete disappearance.
The patient will likely see a great improvement in their symptoms and will, therefore, feel much better if they have achieved partial remission through mesothelioma treatment. The doctor will still see the remaining cancer on CAT or PET scans.
There are chances that some long-term mesothelioma survivors will experience a recurrence of the cancer after a period of apparent complete remission. Doctors do not have to securely predict if patients may experience the relapse of mesothelioma or when it could happen.
If the patient experiences a recurrence, it is often with the same symptoms they had before. Treatment for a recurrence, however, will often be different — particularly if the patient has already had surgery or chemotherapy during their first treatment.
An area that was previously radiated, may not tolerate being radiated again. Some recommended treatments for mesothelioma recurrence might be first-line or second-line chemotherapy drugs or an innovative biological therapy through a clinical trial.
Mesothelioma Survival Factors
There are several factors that will affect mesothelioma survival rates, such as the patient’s age or gender.
The placement, stage, and type of mesothelioma cancer, and the condition of the patient’s overall health, will also influence the rate of mesothelioma survival.
Early Detection and Disease Stage
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection is an important factor in achieving remission and becoming a survivor.
Early detection and diagnosis of mesothelioma mean the cancer may be diagnosed in the localized stage. Localized cancer is considered to be stage 1 of the disease and can often allow the surgical removal of a tumor.
After this stage, however, the cancer cells will have spread further, and surgery to remove the cancer cells is no longer possible.
Treating a smaller and limited area of cancer in stage 1 is easier and allows more treatment options and combinations of treatments, so the earlier the detection, the higher the survival rate.
Patient Health and Age
The difference in age and survival rate is mainly due to the eligibility of younger patients for more aggressive treatments such as surgery, whereas older patients may not be able to undergo these therapies due to poor general health or a higher risk of complications.
Specialized Treatments and Disease Management
Mesothelioma patients who are in the earlier stages of their cancer may be eligible for multimodal therapy, which is a blend of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. This has been found to have the most positive impact on mesothelioma survival rates.
Later stage patients may be able to receive such therapy as well if they have good overall health and are relatively young.
New or alternative treatments in a clinical trial could be a great opportunity for increasing the rate of survival.
Most phase I or II trials do not obtain better results than established treatments. However, with the recent revolution in targeted therapies, they may identify a drug that may go on to become a standard drug that is better than those currently approved.
Mesothelioma treatments and medications are in multiple clinical trials and these clinical trials may enable patients to take advantage of new treatments that may extend mesothelioma survival.
It is important to remember that the management of mesothelioma is of utmost importance. It includes being vigilant when it comes to new symptoms and carefully adhering to follow-up appointments with doctors and specialists.
Mesothelioma Survivor Stories
A 50-year-old female patient is now considered a pleural mesothelioma survivor, having passed the 10-year survival mark.
She insisted on not only two but three second opinions and chose to undergo aggressive pleurectomy/decortication surgery and continuous follow-ups with top doctors for disease management.
Another patient in his mid-fifties passed the 10-year survivor mark about 6 years ago — long enough to see his children grow and start families of their own. He gives credit to the aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery for his lengthy rate of survival.
He was diagnosed in his forties, and due to this early detection, responded relatively well to the treatment he received. He continues to check for symptoms and has regular check-ups with his specialist to manage any remnants of the disease that could appear.
He also maintains a healthy, active lifestyle and insists that continuing to move and travel where possible will only strengthen the battle against the disease.
There are cases of older patients surviving mesothelioma as well. A patient in his mid-60s was diagnosed with stage three inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma and specialists initially informed him that he would have less than a year to live.
However, he beat this prognosis due to undergoing a transarterial chemoperfusion clinical trial that delivered high-doses of chemotherapy directly to specific blood vessels that were feeding mesothelioma tumors.
This was an innovative clinical trial, and he credits his survival rate to this clinical trial and his consistent visits to the specialist.
Finally, a young mother was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in 2006. Despite being given a terminal diagnosis, she underwent a treatment called cytoreduction with HIPEC to remove the cancer from her abdominal cavity. This treatment combines surgery with heated, intraperitoneal chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
As of 2023, she is still alive today and helps spread awareness about the dangers of asbestos.
How Mesothelioma Research Is Improving Survival
Though mesothelioma is a fairly rare disease, researchers and specialists are optimistic. There have been extreme and consistent advancements in traditional treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy that have improved the rate of remission and survival.
There have also been innovative and emerging treatments, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy, that have arisen from clinical trial research.
Mesothelioma centers across the country continue to study new treatments.
These new treatments have demonstrated increased survival rates for mesothelioma patients, and there continues to be steady mesothelioma clinical trials with promising results.
What You Can Do to Improve Mesothelioma Survival
Mesothelioma survival is dependent on many outside factors, but there are actions that patients can take to help improve their rate of survival.
Work With a Specialist
Finding a specialist or a team of specialists is one of the most important decisions a patient can make. Specialists offer skills — the ability to diagnose mesothelioma and develop personalized, unique treatment options for each individual patient. They also offer professional medical advice and manage possible side effects of treatments.
Though mesothelioma remains rare, specialists see many patients each year, allowing them to become familiar with the cancer, its treatment plans, and side effects of treatments.
They will have knowledge about the newest, most promising treatment options for the patient and will be well connected with the clinical trial community, thereby helping their patient discover the most advanced and appropriate trial for them.
Get a Second Opinion
All patients have rights, and one of these rights is the opportunity to gain a second opinion regarding the diagnosis and treatment options. This just means that the patient has the ability to consult with another specialist to confirm a diagnosis or find different types of treatment options available.
There are several standards that remain the same across treatment and care for mesothelioma, yet, the research and experience of every specialist will vary.
Having more than one mesothelioma specialist work together on the patient’s diagnosis and treatment can be beneficial and help narrow down the best possible treatment even further.
Seek Support and Resources
Physical treatment is as necessary as mental and emotional support. It is completely normal for patients to feel overwhelmed or frightened, and it is important for them to be with people who care about them.
Developing a strong support system is just as much of a necessity as working with a team of medical specialists. Patients will find that speaking to others in similar situations and sharing resources and knowledge will help their mental well-being and may eliminate some stress and fear.
Good mental health and a positive sense of optimism and well-being help to survive mesothelioma. Patients should look for support that fits their needs and preferences, such as counseling, mesothelioma support groups, and friends and family.
It is also important for caregivers or family members to know that support is also essential for their well-being.
Supporting someone with mesothelioma is stressful, and no one should go through it alone. Studies have illustrated that patients with terminal cancers — and their caretakers — who join support groups have higher long-term survival rates and increased quality of life.
Inform Yourself About Mesothelioma
Patients should keep themselves informed about mesothelioma and new research.
When patients understand their cancer, they are better equipped to treat it. Studies have shown that this type of health literacy can improve the patient’s experience, relationships, and engagement with their specialists and caretakers and improve their quality of life.
If you would like more information on improving survival rates and achieving remission please contact the team at the Mesothelioma Claims Center today. Our case managers are standing by to help you learn more.
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)