Suggested links

Mesothelioma Prognosis

A mesothelioma prognosis describes a patient’s predicted life expectancy and the projected course of their cancer. The median overall life expectancy of mesothelioma patients is 15 months, with about 10% of patients surviving 5 years after diagnosis. Learn what factors influence a patient’s prognosis and how treatment from a specialist can lead to long-term survival.

Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by: Dr. Mark Levin

Updated by: Laura Wright on

Our Promise to YouOur Promise to You

What’s the Average Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

After confirming your mesothelioma diagnosis, your doctor will determine your prognosis (overall projection and outcome) based on your cancer’s location, cell type, stage, and other factors, such as your age and overall health.

The average mesothelioma prognosis is 12-21 months with treatment.

However, each case of mesothelioma is unique and may have a different outcome. Some mesothelioma patients live 5 years or longer after their initial diagnosis, and some can become long-term survivors who live for decades.

No matter your initial prognosis, you should work with a mesothelioma specialist to develop your personalized treatment plan.

Find top mesothelioma specialists in your area right now with our Free Doctor Match service.

Mesothelioma doctor talking with an older couple
Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match

We'll help you connect with a local mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment.

Find a Doctor Near You

How to Improve Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is generally poor but can be improved by receiving treatment targeted to your specific diagnosis.

Healthy lifestyle changes may also help you live longer when combined with specialized mesothelioma treatment.


Cancer patients who are healthy enough to undergo surgery have a better chance of improving their prognosis for mesothelioma.

For example, nearly 70% of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma who receive cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) live for 5 years after diagnosis.

“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

However, some cancer cells may still be left behind after mesothelioma surgery. This can cause the malignant cells to divide and grow. For this reason, many patients will respond best to multimodal therapy: a combination of treatments that may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

Cancer patients who aren’t candidates for surgery can receive mesothelioma chemotherapy to shrink their tumors or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Mesothelioma radiation therapy can also be used on its own to shrink tumors and reduce painful symptoms.

As researchers discover new treatment methods, mesothelioma patients can access more effective care to help them live longer. Clinical trials for mesothelioma, in particular, are paving the way toward emerging therapies that may improve survival rates — and potentially offer a cure.

Find top mesothelioma specialists for treatment with our Free Doctor Match service.

Mesothelioma doctor talking with an older couple
Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match

We'll help you connect with a local mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment.

Find a Doctor Near You

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may enhance your ability to recover from cancer treatment and improve your overall well-being, which in turn may extend your survival time.

Mesothelioma patients may improve their prognosis through:

  • Exercise: Light exercise, such as aerobics, can improve blood flow, reduce fatigue, and increase appetite.
  • Proper nutrition: Mesothelioma patients should follow dietary recommendations from their oncologist. The nutrients in certain foods can help boost the immune system and can promote healing after treatment.
  • Smoking cessation: Smoking can make it harder to stay healthy during mesothelioma treatment, tolerate chemotherapy, and undergo life-extending surgery.
  • Stress management: Anxiety and stress can negatively affect overall health and recovery. Mesothelioma patients may benefit from relaxing activities such as meditation and yoga.

All of these are important factors of overall health and may help strengthen your body before, during, and after receiving cancer treatment.

Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis

Pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs (pleura), is the most common form of this cancer and has the poorest prognosis.

The projected outlook for pleural mesothelioma primarily depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, although other factors like age can also play a role. 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.

How Long Can You Live With Mesothelioma By Stage?

Generally speaking, life expectancy decreases as the stage of mesothelioma increases, as shown in the table below.

Mesothelioma StageLife Expectancy*2-Year Survival Rate
Stage 121 months45%
Stage 219 months41%
Stage 316 months37%
Stage 412 months26%

Early-Stage Prognosis

Patients with early-stage mesothelioma (stages 1 and 2) who are in otherwise good health often make excellent surgical candidates, giving them a better chance of living a year or more after diagnosis.

Late-Stage Prognosis

Late-stage cancer (stages 3 and 4) that has spread to distant parts in the body may not respond to mesothelioma surgery, contributing to a poorer prognosis for these patients.

Instead, treatment for late-stage mesothelioma focuses on symptom management and improving quality of life. However, every case is different, and various factors can impact survival. Improved and emerging treatments are helping more patients diagnosed in stage 3 or 4 to survive months and years beyond their original life expectancy.

Get our Free Survivors Guide to read about a stage 4 pleural mesothelioma patient who’s still thriving years after this diagnosis.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and has the best prognosis of all forms of mesothelioma.

The average life expectancy is 53 months for patients with epithelioid cell type who receive cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC.

Multimodal therapy can be an effective way treat this cancer. In 2022, the Washington Cancer Institute reported that about 80% of patients lived 5 years or more if they received additional chemotherapy over a prolonged period after undergoing cytoreduction surgery with HIPEC.

Patients may have a more favorable prognosis based on their:

  • Age and gender: These patients are typically younger at the time of diagnosis, which can improve their projected health outlook. Further, there is a higher proportion of women with peritoneal mesothelioma. Studies show that female mesothelioma patients live longer than male patients.
  • Cancer progression: This type of mesothelioma spreads more slowly and tends to remain in the abdomen instead of spreading throughout the body.
  • Tolerance for treatment: Patients may be able to withstand more rigorous treatments in the abdominal area compared to the lungs, resulting in higher survival rates.

Find top mesothelioma specialists who can improve your prognosis with our Free Doctor Match service.

Mesothelioma doctor talking with an older couple
Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match

We'll help you connect with a local mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment.

Find a Doctor Near You

What’s the Prognosis for Rare Types of Mesothelioma?

There are rarer types of malignant mesothelioma that can develop in the lining of the heart or testes.

Patients with pericardial mesothelioma have lower survival rates because of the cancer’s proximity to the heart. The 2-year survival rate for pericardial mesothelioma patients is 12.2% after diagnosis.

Although testicular mesothelioma is extremely rare, the survival rate is relatively high if the cancer is caught before it has spread. About 49% of testicular mesothelioma patients live for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Factors That Affect Mesothelioma Prognosis: Stage, Cell Type, and More

One of the most important factors of a mesothelioma prognosis is getting diagnosed and starting treatment as soon as possible.

Other factors that may affect your prognosis include:

  • Age at diagnosis: Younger patients may be able to withstand more rigorous treatment to effectively fight mesothelioma and extend their life expectancy.
  • Blood chemistry: Abnormally high levels of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are linked to reduced mesothelioma survival rates.
  • Cell type: Epithelial cells are the least aggressive of all mesothelioma cell types and respond best to treatment. Patients with biphasic and sarcomatoid cell types usually have lower survival rates.
  • Gender: Women with malignant mesothelioma tend to live longer and respond more positively to treatment than men, according to the National Cancer Institute.
  • Stage at diagnosis: Because they can typically undergo life-extending surgery, early-stage mesothelioma patients often have a much better prognosis than those who receive a diagnosis in the later stages.
  • Treatment options: Patients who undergo aggressive mesothelioma treatments like surgery often have a better prognosis. Surgery may also increase the effectiveness of other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
  • Type of mesothelioma: The type (location) of mesothelioma can impact how the cancer spreads and what treatment options are available.

Since so many factors 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 to improve your condition.

Points of Hope: Mesothelioma Survival Stories

Despite receiving a poor prognosis, some patients have far surpassed their doctors’ expectations to achieve long-term survival. A few of these inspiring mesothelioma survivors are highlighted below.

Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor Julie with her family

Julie, 17+ Year Survivor

  • Type of mesothelioma: Peritoneal
  • Year diagnosed: 2006
  • Original prognosis: 6-12 months
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor Ginger with her husband

Ginger, 13+ Year Survivor

  • Type of mesothelioma: Peritoneal
  • Year diagnosed: 2010
  • Original prognosis: 6-12 months
Pleural mesothelioma survivor Mike with his wife and daughter

Mike, 9-Year Survivor

  • Type of mesothelioma: Pleural
  • Year diagnosed: 2011
  • Original prognosis: 6-12 months
Pleural mesothelioma survivor Arthur

Arthur, 5+ Year Survivor

  • Type of mesothelioma: Pleural
  • Year diagnosed: 2018
  • Original prognosis: 6-12 months

These survivors demonstrate the importance of staying hopeful after the initial shock of a diagnosis. Specialized treatments, along with healthy lifestyle changes, are helping many mesothelioma patients live longer than ever before.

Learn More About Improving Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

Although mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, it is important to remember every case is unique. Some mesothelioma patients have lived for several years after their cancer diagnosis.

Many of the factors that impact a mesothelioma prognosis are out of your control, such as your age and the location of your cancer, but there are certain steps you can take that may increase your survival time.

Find a doctor near you today to learn more about improving your mesothelioma prognosis.

Mesothelioma Prognosis FAQs

How does diagnosis differ from prognosis?

Before a mesothelioma patient can receive their prognosis, they must first be diagnosed. A mesothelioma diagnosis is the identification and confirmation of a patient’s mesothelioma.

A diagnosis usually requires examining a piece of the cancer tissue obtained through a mesothelioma biopsy.

Once a specialist diagnoses a patient with mesothelioma, they assess the patient’s health, age, and other factors to determine the projected outcome of their cancer and chances of survival.

Is mesothelioma cancer terminal?

Yes, mesothelioma is generally considered a terminal illness. It is an aggressive form of cancer that currently does not have a cure. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is often diagnosed after it has already spread to other parts of the body, making it more challenging to treat.

Still, it’s important to remember that each person’s situation is unique. Some patients may respond positively to treatment, improving their quality of life and extending their survival.

Can mesothelioma go into remission?

Possibly, yes. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47,660 malignant mesothelioma deaths were reported between 1999 and 2017.

Mortality rates allow doctors to predict a patient’s mesothelioma prognosis more accurately. Death rates for mesothelioma are expected to drop as researchers continue to find new ways to treat this cancer.

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

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

Survival rate is the percentage of mesothelioma patients who survive for a specific amount of time. Survival rates are usually calculated in 1-, 3-, and 5-year increments after diagnosis.

The 1- and 5-year survival rates for pleural mesothelioma (all stages) and peritoneal mesothelioma with treatment are listed below.

  • Pleural mesothelioma: 1-year survival rate is 82%, and 5-year survival rate is 12%.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: 1-year survival rate is 81% and 5-year survival rate is 47%.
Reviewed by:Dr. Mark Levin

Certified Oncologist and Hematologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Mark Levin, MD has over 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.

  • Board Certified Oncologist
  • 30+ Years Experience
  • Published Medical Author
Written 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.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You
  1. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Chemotherapy for MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  2. American Cancer Society.  (n.d.). Radiation therapy for malignant mesothelioma.Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  3. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Malignant mesothelioma STAGES. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  4. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Surgery for MALIGNANT MESOTHELIOMA. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  5. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2021, April 22). Mesothelioma – statistics. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  6. Brydges, H., et al. Primary Pericardial Mesothelioma: A Population-Based Propensity Score-Matched Analysis, Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Volume 34, Issue 3, 2022, Pages 1113-1119, ISSN 1043-0679, Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, August 1). Malignant mesothelioma mortality – United States, 1999–2015. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2018). Underlying cause of death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER online database. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  9. Faig, J., et al. (February 2015). Changing pattern in malignant mesothelioma survival. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  10. Magge, D., et al. (April 2014). Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: Prognostic factors and oncologic outcome analysis. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  11. Pass, H., Giroux, D., Kennedy, C., Ruffini, E., Cangir, A. K., Rice, D., Asamura, H., Waller, D., Edwards, J., Weder, W., Hoffmann, H., van Meerbeeck, J. P., Nowak, A., Rusch, V. W., & IASLC Staging and Prognostic Factors Committee, Advisory Boards and Participating Institutions (2016). The IASLC Mesothelioma Staging Project: Improving Staging of a Rare Disease Through International Participation. Journal of thoracic oncology : official publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, 11(12), 2082–2088. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  12. SEER*Explorer: An interactive website for SEER cancer statistics [Internet]. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute; 2023 Apr 19. [updated: 2023 Jun 8]. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  13. Shavelle, R., et al. (2017). Life Expectancy in Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Lung cancer international, 2017, 2782590. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  14. Sugarbaker, PH. Long-term Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy for Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma. J Clin Haematol. 2022;3(1):12-23. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  15. Taioli, E., Wolf, A. S., Camacho-Rivera, M., & Flores, R. M. (2014). Women with malignant pleural mesothelioma have a threefold better survival rate than men. The Annals of thoracic surgery, 98(3), 1020–1024. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
  16. University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). Cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC – FAQs. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from

Speak to a Patient Advocate About Your Options

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is hope. Contact us to learn more about mesothelioma and your treatment options.

  • Latest treatment information
  • Financial assistance for treatment
  • VA benefits help

Submit your information and a Patient Advocate will call you right back!

Complete the Form to Speak to a Patient Advocate