A study published in the medical industry journal Lung Cancer reveals a huge demographic disparity impacting treatment for malignant mesothelioma. An analysis of the 2011 National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data shows that age provided the greatest disparity in treatment levels.
The SEERS database contained information about almost 500 malignant mesothelioma patients, almost 400 of which had the pleural form, and more than 50 had the non-pleural type. Without treatment, pleural mesothelioma, which starts in the pleural lining surrounding the lungs, is an aggressive form of cancer that is fatal in months.
Even considering patients who sought treatment, the mean survival rate is only nine months. Non-pleural mesothelioma has a better survivability rate – 18 months on average – but multi-modal treatment has proven to extend life spans for years in some instances.
The surprising impact of age
A detailed review of patient case files from the SEER database shows that the majority of patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma universally sought treatment. This is regardless of differences in economic status, gender, social standing, cultural/ethnic differences and prior medical history. That is, until the age of 70; that seemed to be the tipping point away from aggressively seeking treatment to tacit acceptance.
- Patients above 70 at diagnosis were much more likely to forego standard cancer treatments, in spite of their effectiveness. Nearly 30 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients over 70, and 21 percent of non-pleural mesothelioma patients of this age went untreated.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that can take decades to fully manifest. It can be difficult to determine when the asbestos exposure underlying the cancer occurred when so much time has passed. Asbestos is such an invasive toxin, it is possible that a seemingly momentary period of exposure 20, 30 or 40 years in the past can end up leading to a serious illness.
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with mesothelioma, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about possible financial settlements to help pay for medical expenses and provide compensation.