Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Even though it’s a terminal disease, it’s not always fatal. Some patients have survived for decades with treatment from a specialist.

As researchers continue to look for a cure for mesothelioma, new and more effective treatments are being discovered every year that have positive impacts on prognosis, survival rates, and life expectancy.

Learn more about how you can improve your prognosis and join other survivors of this cancer.

Understanding Mesothelioma Prognosis

The prognosis for mesothelioma describes the expected health outcome for patients. Survival rate and life expectancy are two estimates that doctors use to explain a patient’s prognosis.

The overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is 12%, meaning 12% of patients are still alive 5 years after their diagnosis.

The average life expectancy with mesothelioma is 12-21 months.

It’s important to note that survival rates are merely estimates based on past cases. Each person is unique, and your experience may be very different from those of previous patients.

What Factors Influence the Severity of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma prognosis can vary greatly depending on multiple factors, including:

  1. Type of mesothelioma: Some types of mesothelioma, like peritoneal mesothelioma, respond to treatment better than others, giving patients a more positive prognosis.
  2. Stage of the cancer: Mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed until it’s in a more advanced stage when the cancer is harder to treat with surgery.

It can take 10-50 years before mesothelioma symptoms become noticeable. This means it’s less common to catch the cancer in the early stages when treatment is more effective.

Treatment Options to Improve Chances of Survival

The best way to improve your chances of survival is to get treatment from a mesothelioma doctor. These specialists have years of experience treating mesothelioma and are committed to helping patients become long-term survivors.

Read more about common treatments for mesothelioma below.

  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
  • Immunotherapy boosts the immune system to better target and attack cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy targets and destroys cancer cells with high-energy rays.
  • Surgery aims to remove all visible tumors and affected tissues.

Some of the best results are seen when specialists combine multiple types of treatment in what’s known as multimodal therapy.

For example, a 2022 study published in Clinical Lung Cancer found that mesothelioma patients who received chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery lived longer than those who received only surgery or chemotherapy.

In addition, new treatment approaches are being studied in mesothelioma clinical trials every year, bringing new and innovative therapies to patients while searching for a cure.

Has Anyone Ever Recovered From Mesothelioma?

There is not a cure for mesothelioma yet, but even with a poor prognosis, some survivors have beaten the odds and are still thriving a decade or more after their diagnosis.

Here are a few of their stories:

  • John Stahl was diagnosed with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma in 2019. He is now a 4+ year survivor and has returned to an active lifestyle.
  • Julie Gundlach was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma at the age of 35 after secondhand asbestos exposure. She has survived for over 17 years, and her cancer is no longer progressing.
  • Alexis Kidd has survived peritoneal mesothelioma for over 16 years. She continues to enjoy life with her husband and rescue cats.

Learn More About Surviving Mesothelioma

As medical research continues to progress, new developments in mesothelioma are providing hope to patients and their families.

Researchers are working tirelessly to understand the disease better, identify new treatment options, and improve overall outcomes for mesothelioma patients.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can read more stories of hope and long-term survival in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Banks, K. C., Ossowski, S., Hung, Y., et al. (2022). Comparison of Survival by Multimodal Treatment Regimen Among Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Patients in an Integrated Health System. Clinical Lung Cancer. Retrieved November 15, 2023, from

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