Mesothelioma comes in three varieties:
- Pleural: most common (75% to 80% of diagnosed cases), originates within the chest and impacts the lungs
- Peritoneal: second most common (15% to 20% of diagnosed cases), originates in the abdomen and can involve the testicles, or spread to liver, spleen or bowel
- Pericardial: very rare (less than 2%), originates around the heart
While mesothelioma is relatively rare, approximately 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. And unfortunately, the average survival time of those with malignant forms of the disease is ten to fourteen months. The prognosis for a long life expectancy is not good even when symptoms appear early and treatment begins quickly.
Other Mesothelioma Facts
- It usually takes a long time before symptoms of mesothelioma appear (on average 20 to 50 years)
- There is a difficulty in diagnosing mesothelioma because its symptoms are common to many types of infections and cancers
- There is often a challenge of putting together the puzzle pieces for an accurate diagnosis
- Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women
- The risk of developing mesothelioma increases with age, although anyone can get mesothelioma
- Treatment depends on cancer location, the patient’s general health and disease stage
- Standard treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. In some instances, these are combined
While treatments are available for some people with mesothelioma, they are mostly used to improve the quality of life of people whose survival prospects are typically measured in months and not years.