It should come as no surprise to readers that mesothelioma is a devastating, aggressive and fatal illness. While many people who are diagnosed with this illness are older men who worked with asbestos decades ago, mesothelioma can affect any person at any age.
However, as we discussed in this article, studies have shown that the risk of being diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma is greater for people who are exposed to asbestos before the age of 20.
There could be many potential reasons for this, including the fact that it can take decades for mesothelioma symptoms to show up so people exposed at older ages may pass away before they can be diagnosed. But a recent study revealed another potential factor in regards to why mesothelioma affects people differently based on age.
According to data analyzed by the National Cancer Institute, the characteristics of mesothelioma are different between younger and older patients. To begin with, the illness is more evenly distributed between men and women at younger ages. They also found that younger patients were more likely to undergo surgery to remove the cancer, even if the illness was already quite advanced.
Researchers also found evidence that younger patients had significantly better survival rates. Again, there are likely many reasons that could explain why this might be. Older people may be suffering from declining health and other medical problems that affect their immune system and therefore cannot undergo complicated surgeries. It is also possible that younger patients may be more willing to try experimental procedures.
While many questions are still left unanswered, the recent study does reinforce the notion that mesothelioma can and does affect patients differently. With this information in mind, it can be possible for doctors and researchers to explore and pursue better treatment options that could improve survival rates in each individual case.