with metastatic mesothelioma
are in the late and final stages of the disease
means that the cancer
from its original location to other areas of the body
. Treatment options are much more limited once mesothelioma tumors
. Sadly, that impacts many patients
because they are not usually diagnosed with mesothelioma
until the disease is in its advanced stages
face a grave prognosis, with a median survival time of less than 12 months from the time of diagnosis
. There is no known cure for the disease. However, treatment
may help prolong life and increase comfort for patients
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with metastatic mesothelioma
, you should know that there is financial compensation available to help with the cost of treatment and related expenses.
Please contact us to learn more
about your legal rights
How Does Mesothelioma Metastasize?
originates in the tissues
lining the lungs
, abdomen, heart and/or testicles. However, once the cancer metastasizes
, it’s possible for secondary tumors
to develop anywhere in the body
usually begins locally, near the area of the original tumor
. The cells then spread
into distant tissues
and lymph nodes via the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Once the cells invade those healthy body
structures, a process called angiogenesis begins.
Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. This is a key part of metastasis
need a consistent blood supply in order to grow. Researchers are currently testing whether an antibody called bevacizumab can prevent angiogenesis from occurring in cancer patients
. Other drugs, called angiogenesis inhibitors, are also being used to cut off the blood supply to tumors
Stages of Metastatic Mesothelioma
Doctors diagnose mesothelioma
and other cancers
is important because knowing the patient
’s stage of cancer
will guide doctors
in developing a treatment plan.
There are 4 stages of malignant mesothelioma:
Currently, the only formal staging
system is used for pleural mesothelioma
. The Tumor
, Nodes and Metastasis
System (TNM) system determines the stage
by looking at:
- T: The primary tumor’s extent throughout the body.
- N: How many lymph nodes show signs of mesothelioma.
- M: How far the tumor has metastasized to other regions.
The TNM system
is the most widely used for diagnosing peritoneal mesothelioma
as well. Some doctors
use the Peritoneal Cancer Index
(PCI) to score the disease and assign a stage
, although this method is not recognized as a universal standard by the American Joint Committee on Cancer. There is no staging
system to describe pericardial
or testicular mesothelioma
because cases are so rare.
Because the stage of the cancer a is key in dictating treatment decisions, patients should consider a getting second opinion.
might find that a patient
is in an earlier stage
than previously thought, making more aggressive treatments
Factors Influencing the Rate of Metastasis
This cancer develops in or near some of the body
’s most vital organs
. As a result, even local metastasis
can cause patients
to decline rapidly. Doctors
may be able to provide a general idea of life expectancy for patients
. Some of the factors influencing the rate of metastasis
for people with mesothelioma
- Stage: Patients with Stage 3 or Stage 4 mesothelioma have fewer treatment options than people who are diagnosed early.
- Cell type: Mesothelioma tumors are made up of epithelioid, sarcomatoid or biphasic cells. Epithelial cells respond best to treatment. Sarcomatoid cells spread rapidly and are more difficult to treat. Biphasic tumors are made up of both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. The prognosis is better if epithelioid cells are dominant in biphasic tumors.
- Treatment: Doctors often use a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to attack the cancer. But patients in the late stages of the disease may not be able to withstand aggressive methods. In those cases, oncologists might use those same methods palliatively, with the goal of reducing pain by preventing tumor growth.
- Age and overall health: Patients who are younger and generally in good health are better candidates for aggressive treatments. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period (15-60 years), most patients are not diagnosed until their 60s or later. However, mesothelioma has been found in younger adults and even children.
- Sex: Women respond better to mesothelioma treatment than men. Almost half of women with mesothelioma live for 1 year after diagnosis and more than 10 percent live for a decade.
It’s not always clear when metastasis
may report new or worsening symptoms that gives doctors
a clue that the mesothelioma
. Another sign is the development of symptoms not commonly associated with asbestos cancer
will use imaging and other medical tests to monitor the progression of the disease.
Once mesothelioma metastasizes
, the cancer
to anywhere in the body
. The location of the initial tumor
gives oncologists an idea of what organs
are likely to be involved.
may find the cancer
has invaded organs
and areas of the body
such as the:
- Adrenal glands
- Chest wall
- Lymph nodes
Mesothelioma of the peritoneum may spread
- Tissues covering the small intestine and colon
- Adrenal glands
Less is known about the spread
of pericardial mesothelioma
because it is so rare. Some studies suggest that the disease spreads through the heart and pulmonary
artery to area such as the lungs
, abdominal cavity and chest wall
rarely impacts the brain. But recent studies have shown that the disease also metastasizes
to uncommon locations such as the bone marrow, meninges (the membranes lining the skull and spinal cord), skin and even the tongue. Researchers in a 2017 study published in the Journal of Oncological Sciences cautioned that physicians
should always be on the lookout for unexpected metastases of malignant mesothelioma
In addition, scientists are learning that mesothelioma
metastases may occur at some sites more frequently than previously thought. For example, cases of bone metastases have rarely been documented among patients
. But a recent study that reviewed clinical data from 165 asbestos cancer
patients from 1992 to 2016 found significantly more cases of lytic bone metastases than expected. Results like these may help doctors
develop new protocols to monitor their patients
Signs that mesothelioma
is beginning to spread
may be difficult to detect. Because mesothelioma metastasizes
locally at first, patients
may only notice that their existing symptoms are getting worse. As the cancer
spreads to distant areas of the body
, new or unusual symptoms may indicate that other organs
Signs of mesothelioma cancer
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Coughing up blood
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain
The emergence of new symptoms that are not typically associated with mesothelioma
can give doctors
an idea of the location of metastasis
. For example, a patient
who suddenly develops jaundice may be showing signs that the mesothelioma
to the liver. Blood in the urine could be a sign that there is a secondary tumor
on the kidneys.
who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms should contact their doctors
immediately to evaluate whether the disease could be advancing into a later stage
Unfortunately, treatment options for mesothelioma patients
in the late stages
are limited. By Stage 3 or Stage 4, the disease has likely progressed too far for curative surgery
to be a realistic option. Chemotherapy
or radiation may still be used palliatively to relieve discomfort, but more aggressive approaches are not often possible in the patient
’s deteriorating condition.
It’s important to understand that palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Palliative care is a form of treatment
perform in an effort to prolong life. Hospice care begins when all medical treatment
, palliative care could involve a combination of therapies
and procedures, including:
- Pleurodesis: Sealing the pleural area to prevent fluid build-up
- Pleurocentesis or thoracentesis: Removing excess fluid from the chest cavity
- Paracentesis: Removing fluid from the abdominal cavity
- Pericardiocentesis: Removing fluid build-up from the pericardial sac around the heart
- Hydrocelectomy: Removing fluid that causes swelling around the scrotum
- Chemotherapy: To kill cancerous cells and improve quality of life
- Radiation therapy: To shrink the tumors and increase comfort in the affected areas
Palliative care can still result in harsh side effects for patients
with metastatic mesothelioma
. However, the intent is to keep the side effects manageable so that patients
can enjoy the remaining time with their friends and families.
Patients sometimes opt for alternative therapies
alone or in conjunction with conventional medical care. Alternative treatments
are intended the treat the whole patient
— mind, body and spirit. A holistic approach aims to strengthen a patient
and immune system to fight mesothelioma
Some examples of alternative treatments
- Acupuncture: Acupuncturists apply thin needles at strategic locations in the body to stimulate the nerves and muscles to fight disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, some evidence suggests that acupuncture may be successful in alleviating the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
- Meditation: Researchers are investigating how a patient’s mindset can play a role in cancer progression. One study used a mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MCBR) program developed by the Massachusetts Medical Center to evaluate the impact of stress relief interventions (including guided meditation) on the cellular activity of breast cancer patients. It found that the length of participants’ telomeres ― a protein at the end of chromosomes that plays a role in cellular aging — were longer than in patients who did not participate in MCBR and other stress reduction programs. Shorter telomeres have been linked to cellular malfunction and a heightened risk of diseases like cancer.
- Homeopathy: In homeopathy, patients take diluted amounts of natural substances that produce symptoms similar to the disease it is trying to cure. The National Institutes of Health reports that there is insufficient evidence to support homeopathic treatments as an effective medical treatment. It also warns that some of treatments could cause harmful side effects or drug interactions. It is important to talk to a doctor before trying homeopathic remedies as a complementary treatment.
- Vitamins and herbal supplements: Vitamins can be a healthy choice for anyone. But according to the American Cancer Society, some vitamins ― especially in large doses — have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer. It also cautions that many herbal supplements that are marketed as “natural” are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may not contain the substances marked on the labels.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program can also help strengthen the body
to fight cancer
. However, it’s essential for patients
to talk to their doctors
about what types of nutrition and activity are appropriate given their conditions.
Life Expectancy for Patients with Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma
. However, early detection makes a considerable difference when it comes to survival times for patients
with the disease. The American Cancer
Society reports that the median survival time for patients
in the early stages
of pleural mesothelioma
(the most common form of the disease) is 21 months after diagnosis
Survival times get shorter as the cancer
becomes more advanced. Patients
with Stage 3 mesothelioma
may live longer than the average of 1 year if they are candidates for surgery
and respond well to post-operative therapies
The median survival time for Stage 4 patients
is 12 months, depending on how well the treatment
is working. Sadly, the cancer
is expected to spread
rapidly at this stage
, even with ongoing palliative care.
Legal & Financial Help
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer
that requires immediate treatment
. But it is an expensive disease to treat, often requiring a multi-modal approach in order to achieve the best possible prognosis.
The only known cause of this cancer
is asbestos exposure
. Most patients
were exposed to asbestos fibers
while working in certain industries and the military. Disturbingly, some of the companies that manufactured asbestos
were aware of the health risks but did not inform the public of the dangers. All patients
who have been diagnosed with asbestos cancer
should contact an attorney to learn about their eligibility for compensation.
Financial relief for this diagnosis
could come from several sources. Some asbestos companies went bankrupt and were required to create asbestos trust funds to pay victims for their losses. Patients
may be able to file a trust fund claim to obtain the compensation they deserve.
It is also possible for the patients
to file personal injury lawsuit against the company responsible for their asbestos exposure
. Families can pursue a wrongful death claim if a loved one has died from this disease. Because the life expectancy for patients
is so short, many settlements can be reached within 30 days.
In addition, victims suffering may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, veterans’ benefits or workers’ compensation benefits.
Compensation can cover losses such as:
- Current, past and future medical costs
- Any travel expenses for treatment
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death claims
Talking with a knowledgeable attorney gives patients
a chance to learn about their legal rights and options. A top rated mesothelioma lawyer
will identify the company or companies responsible for a patient
’s mesothelioma diagnosis
by reviewing his or her employment history, military service records and any other relevant documentation.
Working with a top-rated mesothelioma
attorney is the best way to hold asbestos
companies accountable for their negligence. A lawyer with a track record of success in handling mesothelioma
cases can build a strong and solid claim for compensation
. A seasoned lawyer also knows how devastating a cancer diagnosis
can be for patients
and their families and will be a compassionate advocate for full and fair compensation.
If you are ready to speak with a dedicated mesothelioma
attorney about your right to compensation, contact us today for a free consultation with no obligation. It costs nothing to get a thorough case review, but the benefits for you and your family could be life-changing.
Download Your Free Patient’s Guide to Mesothelioma
When you and your family are coming to terms with a mesothelioma diagnosis
, it can be difficult to know where to get the best guidance. Let the team at Mesothelioma Help assist you. Our free guide to mesothelioma
can provide important information such as:
- Legal support from one of the nation’s top mesothelioma attorneys
- Medical guidance from mesothelioma specialists
- Information on the most recent developments in cancer research
- A guide to mesothelioma medical centers, doctors and treatment facilities near you
- Suggestions on reputable sources of information about mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases
Journal of Oncological Sciences
Journal of Clinical Oncology
American Cancer Society
National Institutes of Health