Malignant mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of cancer diagnosed in those with a known exposure to asbestos. The disease generally forms in either the pleural lining of the chest cavity that holds the lungs or the lining of the peritoneal cavity that holds the abdominal organs. This latter location represents a rarer type of mesothelioma called peritoneal mesothelioma, which is diagnosed in just 15-to-20 percent of patients. A recent study has revealed that over the last several years physicians have seen improvements in overall survival for patients diagnosed with this version of the disease.
Whether we’re discussing pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, veterans make up a disproportionate number of those afflicted with the disease. This is because of the extensive use of asbestos in military settings during the 20th century. The disease’s long latency period means that patients are not diagnosed until decades after their exposure, so many people who served in the years following World War II are being diagnosed today.
The prognosis for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is about 18 months from the time that they’re diagnosed. But over the last twenty years, innovative treatment approaches have yielded significant improvements in the prognosis for patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. A study published in the journal Modern Pathology reports that where patients diagnosed with the disease in the year 2000 were given just a year to live, the use of heated chemotherapy combined with surgery has made a tremendous difference in patient survivals. That technique involves removing as much cancerous tissue from the abdominal cavity as possible and then bathing the area with a heated chemotherapy solution in order to kill any mesothelioma cells left behind. The technology and medication combination has extended that time period for patient prognosis to between 31 months and as long as 92 months.
If you or someone you love is a veteran diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, improvements in medical treatment have provided the opportunity for more time together and higher quality of life. For information on other benefits and treatments available, contact us at 1-800-726-7245.