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Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma life expectancy is the amount of time a patient can expect to live after their cancer diagnosis. The average life expectancy with mesothelioma is 12-21 months, but many people live longer depending on their mesothelioma type, stage, and other factors. Learn more about mesothelioma life expectancy after diagnosis and survivors who’ve defied the odds.

Medically reviewed by: Mark Levin, MD

Last updated:

What Is the Average Life Expectancy With Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma life expectancy is the predicted length of time a patient is expected to live after being diagnosed with this cancer. Doctors determine life expectancy as part of each patient’s mesothelioma prognosis (health outlook).

The average mesothelioma life expectancy with treatment is 12-21 months, according to a report published in F1000Research.

The life expectancy of mesothelioma varies based on a patient’s overall health, cancer location and stage, and mesothelioma cell type. A patient’s life expectancy can change over time depending on how their cancer responds to treatment.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments may help patients diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer live for several months or years. Working with an oncologist (cancer doctor) who specializes in mesothelioma is the best way to increase your life expectancy.

Life Expectancy vs. Survival Rate

When discussing mesothelioma life expectancy, doctors might also mention something called survival rate.

Mesothelioma survival rate is the percentage of patients who are still alive after a certain amount of time. It’s usually measured in 1-, 3-, and 5-year increments.

Mesothelioma survival rates help doctors and researchers understand how the disease affects patients over time.

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Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Malignant pleural mesothelioma starts in the lining of the lung (pleura). On average, patients with pleural mesothelioma live for about 18 months, but this can change significantly based on their cancer stage at the time of diagnosis.

Doctors use 4 stages to describe how far pleural mesothelioma has spread (metastasized). Stage 4 is the final and most advanced stage.

If the cancer is caught at an early stage, there are better treatment options to increase mesothelioma life span, and tumors may not have spread as far throughout the body.

Life Expectancy by Stage

Mesothelioma stage 4 life expectancy is the lowest at 12 months. Stage 3 mesothelioma life expectancy is slightly higher but only by a few months.

The chart below shows the average life expectancy for each stage of mesothelioma.

StageLife Expectancy
Stage 121 months
Stage 219 months
Stage 316 months
Stage 412 months
Source: Frontiers in Oncology, 2018

Nearly 75% of patients are diagnosed in stages 3 and 4, according to a 2022 review of the National Cancer Database (NCDB). Seeking treatment from a mesothelioma specialist as soon as possible is crucial to increasing your survival time and quality of life.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the abdominal lining (peritoneum). This type of mesothelioma can be treated more aggressively because it doesn’t affect vital organs and tends to remain in the abdomen if it spreads to other areas.

Based on a report in Cancer Management and Research, peritoneal mesothelioma life expectancy is 53 months on average for patients who get cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

The caring nurses at Mesothelioma Hope can help you get treatment to improve your life expectancy. Call (866) 608-8933 today to get started.

Life Expectancy for Rare Types of Mesothelioma

Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are the rarest forms of this disease. Below, you can find the life expectancy for each.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Pericardial mesothelioma affects the protective sac surrounding the heart. It has the shortest life expectancy, averaging 2-6 months. However, this type of mesothelioma is very rare, making up less than 1% of all cases. Most cases of pericardial mesothelioma aren’t discovered until after an autopsy.

When patients receive a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma, it’s likely that the cancer has already progressed to an advanced stage, which makes it difficult to treat.

Testicular Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

A 2023 report published in Urologic Oncology stated that the median life expectancy for testicular mesothelioma is 72.5 months. With only a few hundred cases ever reported, testicular mesothelioma is often diagnosed when a patient undergoes surgery for a misdiagnosed hernia.

Testicular mesothelioma recurs (comes back) in 60% of cases within 2 years after radical orchiectomy (removal of the testes and any nearby cancerous tissue), with a median life expectancy of 12 months after recurrence.

That said, it’s still possible for many testicular mesothelioma patients to live for 10 years or more.

“Life expectancy depends on the stage of the disease. It depends on the cell type. I tell patients to stay in the here and now and go one day at a time.”
– Amy Fair, RN, Mesothelioma Hope Patient Advocate, 20+ years of experience

Factors Impacting Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

There are several variables that can influence someone’s life expectancy with mesothelioma. Learn more about these factors below.

Type of Mesothelioma

Each malignant mesothelioma type develops in a different location of the body, and some places are harder to treat than others.

Patients with pericardial mesothelioma have the shortest life expectancy, while patients with testicular mesothelioma have the longest life expectancy.

Cell Type

Mesothelioma is grouped into three main mesothelioma cell types based on how the cancer cells look and behave.

The chart below shows the average life mesothelioma expectancy for each cell type.

Life expectancy by cell type
Cell TypeLife Expectancy
Epithelioid14 months
Sarcomatoid4 months
Biphasic10 months

Cancer Stage

In most cases, the earlier the stage of mesothelioma, the better the life expectancy. For this reason, stage 1 and 2 patients have a higher mesothelioma life expectancy than patients in stages 3 and 4.

However, it’s always possible for patients to defy the odds and become long-term mesothelioma survivors. One such patient is John Stahl, who was diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma in 2019 and is still alive today thanks to an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment with chemotherapy.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor John Stahl Video Thumbnail

Mesothelioma survivor John Stahl was diagnosed with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma in 2019. More than four years later, he's still enjoying his golden years with his wife, Dee. Call us today at (866) 608-8933 to get the medical help you need to become a survivor. View Transcript.

Duration: 2 min 59 sec

Dee Stahl:
The day started out fine. We got up and John, which is unusual for him, just came out of the bedroom and just sat down, and he said, “I just don’t feel good.” And I knew something was wrong because John doesn’t complain. And I said, “Well, I think we should probably go to the ER.” They found out that there was over two liters of fluid on his left lung, and they were amazed that he was even able to breathe, period. They did a CAT scan, and that’s when he just said, “You have stage four mesothelioma, John.”

John Stahl:
I was kind of blank. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t realize that my job had exposed me to this.

Dee Stahl:
We’re the Stahls. I’m Dee, and this is my husband, John.

John Stahl:
My name is John Stahl. I was first exposed to asbestos poisoning through the construction business, through Sheetrock®, through gaskets, and piping all through my career. And I worked 43 years in the construction business. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. The first treatment was with chemotherapy, and I went every two weeks. It didn’t take long, an hour or so, but it would take me seven to 10 days to recover. That was hard for me because I’m a pretty active person. At first, it didn’t really sink in. The longer I thought about it, it’s gonna end my life eventually, but I’m gonna live it…as well as I can.

Dee Stahl:
Being with John through this, I’m glad I was here for him. He’s got a lot of support. He’s got a lot of friends and family that really care for him. But to be there, John made it easy because he was so positive. I’m just glad I was here for him. He held me up, really.

John Stahl:
Having Dee with me going through this was indescribable. It’s important for people to understand that there’s help and there’s people that are willing to help them.

Dee Stahl:
I think John’s positive attitude has kept him going like he has, having John so halfway healthy. I mean, he’s able to do things and be happy. John’s a very positive guy. He makes you happy.

Other Patient Factors

While the location and stage of mesothelioma play a large role in survival time, research shows that certain patient characteristics can also affect mesothelioma life expectancy.

Other patient factors that can impact life expectancy with mesothelioma include:

  • Age: Patients under the age of 50 have the highest survival rates based on data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
  • Overall health: Patients who are in otherwise good health and don’t smoke tend to have a longer life expectancy. These patients are usually eligible for life-extending surgeries and tend to remain healthier longer.
  • Sex: Women with mesothelioma live longer on average than men with this cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), this may be because more men have suffered asbestos exposure in the workplace.

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Improving Mesothelioma Life Expectancy With Treatment

The best way to increase your life expectancy with mesothelioma is to get treatment. Treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Newer therapies are also showing promise in clinical trials.

Many mesothelioma doctors believe that combining more than one treatment (multimodal therapy) is the most effective way to increase life expectancy. For example, chemotherapy is most effective when paired with surgery, according to the ACS.

Learn more about each type of mesothelioma treatment below.


Mesothelioma surgery allows doctors to physically remove as much of the cancer as possible. Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy can also be administered before or after surgery to kill more cancer cells.

Surgeries that can improve patients’ life expectancy with mesothelioma include:

Pleural mesothelioma patients treated with surgery have a median life expectancy of 19.8 months, according to the NCDB.


Chemotherapy is another treatment option that’s been proven to increase mesothelioma life expectancy. During chemotherapy, cancer-fighting drugs are administered in cycles to kill mesothelioma cells, shrink tumors, and prevent the growth of new cells.

Commonly used mesothelioma chemotherapy medications include:

  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin
  • Gemcitabine
  • Onconase
  • Pemetrexed

According to a 2020 report from OncLive, pleural mesothelioma patients treated with chemotherapy alone had an average life expectancy of 14.1 months. Patients live even longer if they’re able to undergo surgery before or after chemotherapy.


Immunotherapy is a treatment that can increase mesothelioma life expectancy by training the immune system to recognize and attack tumor cells more effectively, slowing down the growth of the cancer.

In October 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two immunotherapy drugs as a first-line treatment for pleural mesothelioma based on the results of a clinical trial. The trial showed that this combination increased life expectancy from 14.1 months to 18.1 months in patients ineligible for surgery.

Emerging Treatments and Clinical Trials

In recent years, there have been promising developments in emerging treatments aimed at increasing the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.

Examples of emerging treatments include:

Emerging treatments continue to be tested and refined in nationwide clinical trials, offering renewed hope for patients whose cancer hasn’t responded to conventional therapies.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment

The average survival of patients who do not receive mesothelioma treatment is 4-12 months for pleural mesothelioma and 6-12 months for peritoneal mesothelioma.

Patients who don’t qualify for or don’t want to undergo aggressive procedures are encouraged to talk with a mesothelioma doctor about their options.

Get Help Living Longer With Mesothelioma

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, remember that your life expectancy is just your doctor’s best estimate. There are many patients who were originally told they had months to live but have achieved 5, 10, and even 15+ years of survival.

The best place to start is to find a mesothelioma doctor who has experience treating this type of cancer. Beginning mesothelioma treatment as soon as possible gives you the best chance at living longer and making more memories with your loved ones.

Find a doctor right now to get help improving your life expectancy with mesothelioma.

Life Expectancy With Mesothelioma FAQs

Can you beat mesothelioma?

It’s rare to beat mesothelioma, but it’s possible for patients to achieve remission and live many years in some cases after being diagnosed.

Mesothelioma remission happens when the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma become less severe or disappear for a while. While only a small number of people experience remission, some patients have beat their initial mesothelioma life expectancy with treatment.

Try our Free Doctor Match to find local specialists who treat mesothelioma.

How long can you live with mesothelioma?

After diagnosis, the average mesothelioma life span is 12-21 months with treatment. Mesothelioma life expectancy varies significantly by cancer type, stage, and other factors.

As existing treatments improve and new therapies are discovered, patients have more opportunities to defy mesothelioma survival statistics.

Is mesothelioma 100% fatal?

Mesothelioma is considered a serious and potentially fatal cancer. However, early detection and treatment can extend the life expectancy of some patients.

If you’ve been diagnosed with this cancer, it’s important to work closely with a specialist to explore your treatment options and get a personalized care plan that can improve your life expectancy with mesothelioma.

What are the odds of beating mesothelioma?

You can’t cure mesothelioma, but your odds of surviving long-term with this cancer increase the sooner you’re accurately diagnosed and treated.

It’s important to find a doctor at a mesothelioma cancer center who can develop a custom treatment plan tailored to your specific type and stage of cancer.

Contact our team today at (866) 608-8933 for help finding top mesothelioma doctors near you.

Reviewed by:Mark Levin, MD

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 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:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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