Advice for Long Term Caregiver and Mesothelioma

Knowing what to expect when caring long-term for a loved one with terminal mesothelioma can be difficult. The long-term prognosis for any patient depends on several factors, such as the stage of cancer, type of tumor, the age and health of the patient and more. Unfortunately, the important thing to remember is that most mesothelioma prognosis are not positive. It’s an extremely aggressive cancer that spreads quickly, is often diagnosed late and is nearly always malignant.

Prognosis Factors

The first step in planning for long-term care is to understand survival rates. The average survival rate for most serious cancers is five years after the initial diagnosis. The five year survival rate fluctuates based on different factors. About 37 percent of mesothelioma patients under the age of 45 survive five years or longer after being diagnosed. However, over the age of 45 and the five year survival rate goes down to 20 percent.

One of the biggest issues with the survival rate in mesothelioma is due to how late it is often diagnosed. The cancer then has a chance to spread to more parts of the body and drastically reduce treatment success.

Treatment Plans

Treatment plans usually consist of the usual chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Alternative therapies are also available and may help extend the life of a patient. For those who can have surgery, much of the tumor tissue can be removed and then be followed up with radiation and chemotherapy treatment. The decision on treatment is often made with two factors in mind: aggressively treating the cancer to extend life as much as possible or treating it in a way that will allow the patient to be as comfortable as possible during the rest of their life. Many times aggressive treatment will also reduce quality of life for the patient, even if it extends the duration of life.

Clinical trials may provide alternative therapies and some patients opt to take part in these as they feel they have nothing to lose with a terminal diagnosis.

Support Systems

A support system of loved ones is extremely important to anyone diagnosed with terminal cancer. A bad prognosis after a mesothelioma diagnosis is a devastating event for most people and they will need supportive people around them to help cope with the news. Along with support from loved ones, it’s also important to get involved with mesothelioma groups to connect with those who are in various stages of the disease. Another helpful thing is to get justice through a lawsuit when a company or organization is believed to be responsible for asbestos exposure.

Long-term care after a mesothelioma diagnosis is likely to be five years or less in many cases. In that time, patients will need strong mental and physical support.