Latest advances in the development of combined surgical, radiotherapy and palliative procedures used in the treatment of mesothelioma have helped to increase individual patient longevity by several months and even 1-2 years are not unknown in specific instances.
However, a complete cure for the deadly asbestosis cancer has yet to be fully realised. Survival rates from confirmed diagnosis tend to be around 4 to 12 months because, invariably, the disease is at an advanced stage and has spread to adjacent tissue cells or 'distant' organs.
A recent case involving a South American woman who was treated in Italy, and according to the Italian doctors "... shows a disease-free survival interval of 4 years for malignant pleural mesothelioma" and thus, is key evidence for an improved prognosis.
With a three year time limit from confirmed diagnosis for an asbestosis lawyer to make a mesothelioma claim on behalf of the patient, it could undoubtedly be of significance in future mesothelioma compensation cases and help towards providing a better quality of life for a surviving patient and their family.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are established 'tri-modal' asbestosis treatments used in fighting the fatal tumours that form in the linings of the lungs ( pleural mesothelioma) or within the membrane surrounding the heart (pericardial mesothelioma). Chemotherapy is used with the aim of reducing the mesothelioma, surgery to remove the diseased tissue, and radiotherapy to prevent a return of the cancer cells.
There is an exceptionally long gestation period of up to 40 or 50 years from an original exposure and breathing in of the asbestos fibres to the appearance of the first asbestosis symptoms or signs of mesothelioma. Often the victim is elderly or in poor health or has a history of smoking and survival rates are likely to be considerably reduced.
Previous research has confirmed that if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage or if the patient is younger, there is a higher probability of surviving mesothelioma for longer. In the present case, the woman was young and admitted to hospital with the usual, non-specific symptoms including, shortness of breath.
Prior to surgery, two cycles of chemotherapy were administered using the acknowledged treatment standard of pemetrexed and cisplatin. This was followed by an extrapleural pneumonectomy, a procedure to remove not only the cancerous membrane, but also adjacent membranes such as the nearest lung, and often the diaphragm. The patient also received external beam radiation to one side of the chest after a period of six months had elapsed.
Post operation monitoring by a combination of PET and CT scanning has yet to find any signs of a return of the disease some fours later.
With around 2,000 cases of mesothelioma still being diagnosed each year and over 4,000 asbestos disease related fatalities recorded in the UK, it is hoped that tri-modal procedures will help to improve future survival rates.
Asbestos Victim Advice
Expert advice and information on mesothelioma and asbestos related illnesses.