Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mesothelioma prognosis

Pleural mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat because it can spread so extensively and it is generally not diagnosed until it is in the more advanced stages, making surgical removal of all the cancer difficult or impossible. Because it is a relatively rare cancer, mesothelioma has not been studied as much as more common forms of cancer. The stage at which treatment for mesothelioma is begun has a tremendous impact on the patient’s prospects for long-term survival.
The patient’s overall health status and age affect the prognosis. The American Cancer Society reports that 75 percent of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are 65 years old or older. Men are five times more likely to have mesothelioma than women are.
When mesothelioma is diagnosed, the doctors look at how far the cancer has spread and several health factors. Pleural mesothelioma patients have a poorer prognosis if they are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, inability to perform daily tasks, weight loss, a low red blood cell count, a high white blood cell count, and high blood levels of a substance called LDH. According to the American Cancer Society, most mesothelioma patients who have all these factors present pass away within six months of their diagnosis. It is rare for these seriously ill patients to live two years after their diagnosis. Patients without these serious risk factors at the time of their diagnosis have a better outcome.

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