Influenza poses deadly threat to patients with malignant mesothelioma

Released December 13, 2022

Just as mesothelioma patients collectively breathe a sigh of relief as COVID-19 subsides, health officials are sounding the alarm about this year’s flu. These warnings are especially important for those who have been diagnosed with the rare and deadly form of cancer.


Mesothelioma patients at particular risk of influenza

The flu poses a significant risk to anyone susceptible to disease, but patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are particularly vulnerable because of their weakened lungs. Chemotherapy and other treatment protocols can further compromise their immune systems.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports flu hospitalizations are at their highest in a decade, people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and those who care for them are urged to take extra precautions and to consult with their doctors about flu shots.

Effects of the flu on people with malignant mesothelioma

Having the flu is a miserable experience for everyone, but for those who have malignant mesothelioma or another underlying condition, the seasonal virus can have dire consequences. Of the 120,000 people hospitalized with the flu in recent months, nine in 10 had at least one underlying condition. Children under the age of 5, people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems or health are most at risk of catching or dying from the flu.

Patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma—whose lungs have been weakened by their cancer and may have already had surgery to remove a lung or surrounding tissue—are at much greater risk of the flu leading to bacterial pneumonia. The combination of influenza and pneumonia is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States.

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If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, consult your doctor about your flu risks and how to manage your particular susceptibility. For information about other resources available to you, contact Patient Advocates today at 1-800-692-8608.

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Written by Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the main author of our news blog She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes knowledge is power, and she is committed to sharing news about the effects of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and the stories of victims.

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