Mesothelioma Prognosis

A mesothelioma prognosis is the predicted outcome of the patient’s condition that describes life expectancy and survival rate. The average life expectancy for mesothelioma is roughly 1 to 2 years, with about 10% of patients surviving 5 years after diagnosis. One of the most effective ways to improve mesothelioma prognosis is through treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Average Mesothelioma Prognosis

A prognosis of mesothelioma is the expected progression and outcome of the cancer. Your doctor will determine your prognosis based on your cancer’s location, cell type, stage, and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with mesothelioma have a median survival of about 1 year from the time of diagnosis.

It is important to note that each case of mesothelioma is unique and has a different outcome. Some mesothelioma patients survive five years or longer after their initial diagnosis. No matter what your prognosis is, you can work with your care team to create a customized, life-extending treatment plan.

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Improving Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma without treatment is poor, but your condition and prognosis may be improved through curated treatment to target your specific needs.

Lifestyle changes — including staying positive and hopeful — may also help mesothelioma patients live as long and healthily as possible.

Improving Prognosis Through Treatment

Mesothelioma patients that are healthy enough to undergo surgery have a better chance at improving their prognosis for mesothelioma. For example, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma who receive cytoreduction with HIPEC may survive up to 7 years or more after diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“Surgery is more likely to have long-term benefits in early-stage cancers, where there’s a better chance that most or all of the cancer can be removed.”

– American Cancer Society

Some cancer cells may still be left behind after mesothelioma surgery, however, which can cause the malignant cells to divide and grow. Many patients will respond best to multimodal therapy, a combination of treatments that may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.

Patients unable to undergo surgery may still experience tumor shrinkage or slowed growth of cancer cells from mesothelioma chemotherapy alone. Radiation therapy can also be used on its own to shrink mesothelioma tumors and reduce painful symptoms.

Mesothelioma patients may have access to more effective care that may improve their prognosis as researchers continue to discover new treatment methods. Clinical trials continue to pave the way to find new mesothelioma treatments that can improve survival rates — or even find a cure.

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Improving Prognosis Through a Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may enhance your ability to recover from cancer treatment and improve your overall well-being, potentially improving your mesothelioma prognosis.

Mesothelioma patients may improve their prognosis by:

  • Eating well: Mesothelioma patients should follow diet recommendations from their care team. Getting proper nutrition can support the immune system and give patients the best chance of recovery and survival.
  • Exercising: Light exercise such as aerobics can improve blood flow, reduce stress, and help prevent secondary health issues such as bedsores.
  • Managing stress: Overall health and recovery time can be affected by stress. Patients may find benefit in practicing stress management activities such as meditation and yoga.
  • Not smoking: Smoking can make it difficult to maintain good health during treatment, tolerate chemotherapy, or undergo life-extending surgery.

These factors can help improve your overall health which can help your body be strong enough to go through and recover from your cancer treatment.

Did you know that good nutrition helps to boost energy levels and promote healing? Find more tips on improving life expectancy with our Free Downloadable Guide.

Mesothelioma Prognosis by Type

The type of mesothelioma you have greatly impacts your prognosis for mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and has the best prognosis. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura), is much more common than peritoneal and has a poorer prognosis.

Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis

A pleural mesothelioma prognosis is primarily dependent on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis.

Doctors usually determine the stage of malignant pleural mesothelioma by using the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system. TNM uses four stages to describe how far a patient’s cancer has spread. In general, your prognosis will be better the earlier you are diagnosed.

Mesothelioma StageLife Expectancy2-Year Survival Rate
Stage 122.2 months*41-46%
Stage 220 months*38%
Stage 317.9 months*26-30%
Stage 414.9 months*17%

Early-stage (stages 1 and 2) pleural mesothelioma patients in otherwise good health often make excellent surgery candidates, giving them a better prognosis.

Late-stage (stages 3 and 4) patients with aggressive cancer that has spread into distant parts of the body may be unable to respond to mesothelioma surgery, contributing to a poorer prognosis. Treatment is instead focused on symptom management and improving quality of life. However, every patient is different and treatment advances are happening all the time — even patients diagnosed in stage 3 or 4 may outlive their prognosis.

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Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma has the best prognosis of all mesothelioma types. The median survival is around 51.5 months for patients with epithelioid cell type who received cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Undergoing curative treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma may be the most effective way to improve prognosis. A 2015 study reported that 19 peritoneal mesothelioma patients who received a combination of surgery and chemotherapy had a 100% 1-year survival rate and a 91% 3-year survival rate.

Peritoneal mesothelioma may have a more favorable prognosis due to:

  • Cancer progression: Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma progresses at a slower rate than other types and tends to remain in the abdomen instead of spreading to other areas of the body.
  • Age and gender: Peritoneal mesothelioma patients have factors that tend to improve a prognosis, such as being diagnosed at a younger age. Further, there is a higher proportion of females with peritoneal mesothelioma, which can result in a better prognosis.
  • Treatment: Patients may be able to withstand more rigorous treatments in the abdominal area compared to the heart and lungs, resulting in a better prognosis for mesothelioma.

Prognosis for Rare Types of Mesothelioma

There are other rare types of mesothelioma in addition to the more commonly diagnosed pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Pericardial mesothelioma has the worst prognosis of all types of the condition because of its rarity and location near the heart. On average, 50-60% of pericardial mesothelioma patients do not live more than 6 months after diagnosis.

Although testicular mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease, the survival rate is typically high if the cancer is caught before it has spread. About 49% of testicular mesothelioma patients can expect to live at least 5 years after diagnosis.

Your prognosis is not definitive. You can work to improve your prognosis by seeking treatment from an experienced mesothelioma specialist.

Use our Doctor Match program to find a mesothelioma specialist near you to get the best chance of improving your prognosis.

Factors That Affect Mesothelioma Prognosis

One of the most important factors in mesothelioma prognosis is getting diagnosed and starting treatment as soon as possible to increase chances of survival.

Other factors that may affect your prognosis include:

  • Age: Younger patients may be able to withstand more rigorous treatment to effectively fight cancer and improve their prognosis.
  • Blood characteristics: Abnormal levels of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are linked to shorter survival time.
  • Cell type: Epithelial cells are the least aggressive type of mesothelioma cells and respond best to treatment. Patients with a biphasic or sarcomatoid cell type may have a worse prognosis.
  • Gender: Female mesothelioma patients tend to live longer and respond more positively to treatment than men.
  • Stage at diagnosis: Because they are typically able to undergo life-extending surgery, early-stage mesothelioma patients often have a much better prognosis than those diagnosed at a later stage.
  • Treatment options: Patients able to undergo aggressive mesothelioma treatment like surgery often have a better prognosis. Surgery may also increase the effectiveness of other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Type of mesothelioma: The type, or location, of mesothelioma can impact the spread of cancer, available treatment options, and other factors.

Since there are so many factors that can affect the prognosis of mesothelioma, it’s important to see a mesothelioma specialist as soon as possible. Early detection and diagnosis can be critical in accessing treatment and improving your condition.

Learn More About Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

Although mesothelioma generally has a poor prognosis, it is important to remember every case is different. Some mesothelioma survivors have lived for several years with their cancer. Even though many of the factors influencing a prognosis for mesothelioma are not controllable, there are steps patients can take to increase the odds of living longer than their prognosis.

Get a free Mesothelioma Guide today to learn more about life-extending treatments and other options that may improve your mesothelioma prognosis.

Mesothelioma Prognosis FAQs

How does diagnosis differ from prognosis?

Before a doctor gives a patient their prognosis, they must make a diagnosis. A mesothelioma diagnosis is the identification and confirmation of a patient’s mesothelioma. It usually requires a piece of the cancer tissue obtained through a biopsy.

Once a mesothelioma specialist diagnoses a patient with mesothelioma, they assess the patient’s condition to determine their prognosis.

Can mesothelioma go into remission?

Mesothelioma remission occurs when cancer can no longer be detected in a patient’s body. Mesothelioma is an incredibly aggressive cancer, and even the most thorough surgeries, chemotherapy sessions, and radiation treatments may not eliminate every cancer cell.

Mesothelioma patients who receive early and effective treatment may achieve remission and survive years without any signs of cancer. However, mesothelioma nearly always returns. This is called mesothelioma recurrence.

What is the death rate for mesothelioma?

The mesothelioma death rate, or mortality rate, measures the ratio of deaths to the population of all mesothelioma patients. According to the CDC, a total of 45,221 malignant mesothelioma deaths were reported between 1999 and 2015, increasing from 2,479 (1999) to 2,597 (2015).

Mortality rate statistics enable a mesothelioma doctor to predict prognosis more accurately. Death rates for mesothelioma are expected to drop as researchers continue to find new ways to treat mesothelioma.

What is the difference between mesothelioma life expectancy and survival rates?

Your mesothelioma prognosis will likely include your life expectancy as well as the survival rate for the cancer.

Mesothelioma life expectancy is the average number of months that doctors expect a patient to live after diagnosis. The majority of mesothelioma patients are given a life expectancy of 12 to 21 months.

Mesothelioma survival rate is the percentage of patients who survive for a specific amount of time. Survival rates are usually calculated in 1-, 3-, and/or 5-year increments after diagnosis. The 1- and 5-year survival rates for pleural mesothelioma (all stages) and peritoneal mesothelioma are shown below.

Pleural Mesothelioma 1-year survival rate is 33% and the 5-year survival rate is 5%.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma 1-year survival rate is 92% and the 5-year survival rate is 65%.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Reviewed by:Dr. Mark Levin

Certified Oncologist and Hematologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Mark Levin, MD has nearly 30 years of experience in academic and community hematology and oncology. In addition to serving as Chief or Director at four different teaching institutions throughout his life, he is also still a practicing clinician, has taught and designed formal education programs, and has authored numerous publications in various fields related to hematology and oncology.

Dr. Mark Levin is an independently paid medical reviewer.

Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

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