The number of reported pleural mesothelioma cases each year in the United States isn’t decreasing. That news is discouraging.
However, survival times are increasing, and that is remarkably encouraging for people with this cancer.
Last December, the World Journal of Surgery published detailed information about how many Americans develop pleural mesothelioma and how long they’re surviving. Researchers used The National Cancer Database, which includes reports of 20,988 pleural mesothelioma cases from 2004-2014.
The number of reported cases in 2004 was 1,783, and the number in 2014 was 1,961. This increase shows that pleural mesothelioma — and mesothelioma as a whole — remains a health concern.
Why Hasn’t the Number of Pleural Mesothelioma Cases Declined?
In general, mesothelioma’s incidence rate hasn’t declined, despite many experts predicting a dropoff in the 21st century. The increased regulation — and decreased use — of asbestos in occupational settings provided hope for fewer cases.
Instead, there are lingering effects of the rampant asbestos use from the 20th century. Mesothelioma has an unusually long latency period, which is the medical term for how long a disease takes to form.
Mesothelioma usually develops between 20 and 50 years after asbestos exposure occurs. Therefore, people who were exposed to the toxin in the 1970s and 1980s only recently discovered they have this cancer. Additionally, many people were exposed in the 1990s and even the 21st century to “legacy asbestos.”
This phrase refers to asbestos installed in older homes, offices and other buildings. The components within these buildings decay in time, which can release loose asbestos fibers into the air. People occupying these spaces are in danger, as are workers tasked with repairing the buildings.
Patients Have Improved Chances of Long-Term Survival
The findings do reveal reasons for hope. The number of patients undergoing mesothelioma treatment increased dramatically, from 34% to 54%. Improved awareness of and access to medical care has led to more pleural mesothelioma victims receiving treatment.
The one-year survival rates for patients also increased, from 37% to 47%. The three-year survival rates increased from 9% to 15%.
There are numerous explanations for the boost in mesothelioma survival rates. Treatment methods continue to improve, staging and diagnostic practices are more refined, and experts better understand the intricacies of this cancer.
The report outlined that factors leading to longer survival times include:
- Receiving multimodal treatment in a Center of Excellence
- Younger age of the patient
- Female gender
- Epithelioid cell type most prevalent
- Patient having health insurance
How to Increase Your Odds of Beating Pleural Mesothelioma
If you’re a mesothelioma patient, then the most crucial factor is the first one listed above. Finding a doctor who specializes in treating mesothelioma is essential to your long-term survival. Look for one who works at a high-quality, high-volume Center of Excellence that helps mesothelioma patients regularly.
If you need help finding such a doctor or cancer center, then we are here for you. Our patient advocate and registered nurse, Karen Ritter, can help match you with the perfect doctor or hospital. She’ll consider your location, age and type of mesothelioma to find the best fit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our free online form on our Doctor Match page to get started.
Sources & Author
- Largely Unchanged Annual Incidence and Overall Survival of Pleural Mesothelioma in the USA. World Journal of Surgery. Retrieved from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31428834. Accessed: 03/19/2020.
Sources & Author