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How age affects the decision to seek treatment for mesothelioma

A recent study published in the industry journal Lung Cancer shows a great drop in people seeking treatment for malignant mesothelioma once they hit a certain age. The research was based on 2011 statistics provided by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.

The study analyzed treatment parameters for both pleural and non-pleural malignant mesothelioma, a highly aggressive form of cancer recognized for its high mortality rate in a relatively short time (as compared to other cancers). Statistical models applied to the data helped researchers differentiate treatment predictors for the nearly 500 patients analyzed.

Results showed a striking discrepancy based on age in the number of patients seeking treatment. Most patients actively sought treatment following a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma across demographic, gender and economic lines until the age of 70. Those diagnosed after age 70, however, were "much less likely" to receive any medical intervention for their cancer.

Deciding to get treatment

A surprising number of patients studied chose not to seek any treatment despite the mortality rate of either form of mesothelioma. Nearly 30 percent of pleural mesothelioma diagnoses came with no follow-up treatment. The number was slightly less for non-pleural mesothelioma, with about 22 percent of patients choosing to not seek active cancer care.

Pleural mesothelioma (for patients in the study), even with treatment, came with a survival period averaging just 9 months. Non-pleural mesothelioma patients, that is, those with peritoneal mesothelioma or the even less common pericardium mesothelioma, fared slightly better, with a life span of twice that of pleural mesothelioma (18 months compared to 9).

Deciding whether to proceed with treatment following a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis is a highly personal decision. Working with an attorney to determine how you were exposed to the asbestos that caused your condition - and to help you seek compensation for the physical and financial consequences of your failing health - can make a difference in your life and the loved ones you leave behind.

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