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Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Navigating pleural mesothelioma involves understanding various aspects of this cancer, including life expectancy. The average pleural mesothelioma life expectancy is 18 months but can vary based on cancer stage, cell type, treatment, and other factors. Learn how we can connect you with top doctors and treatment options to improve your life expectancy with pleural mesothelioma.

Fact-Checked and Updated by: Jenna Tozzi, RN

Last updated:

What Is the Life Expectancy of Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma life expectancy refers to the average amount of time someone diagnosed with this type of cancer is expected to live.

The average malignant pleural mesothelioma life expectancy is 18 months, according to a Frontiers in Oncology report. However, several patients have beaten the odds and are still living fulfilling lives more than 10 years after being diagnosed.

Average Life Expectancy With and Without Treatment
  • With Treatment: 18 months
  • No Treatment: 4-12 months
Sources: Frontiers in Oncology, Cancer Therapy Advisor

Pleural mesothelioma life expectancy depends on these factors:

  • Age and overall health
  • Cancer stage
  • Mesothelioma cell type
  • Type of treatment received (if any)

The life expectancy and prognosis for pleural mesothelioma are closely linked. Prognosis refers to the likely course and outcome of a disease, and it plays a significant role in determining life expectancy.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rate vs. Life Expectancy

When discussing life expectancy, doctors often refer to what’s known as the pleural mesothelioma survival rate.

The pleural mesothelioma survival rate is the percentage of diagnosed patients who are still alive after a certain period, typically 1, 3, and 5 years. Mesothelioma survival rates provide a more focused picture of the disease’s impact on life expectancy after diagnosis.

According to Moffitt Cancer Center, the 1-year malignant pleural mesothelioma survival rate is 73%. The 5-year pleural mesothelioma survival rate is 12%.

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Factors That Impact Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Life expectancy depends on several factors, like how far your cancer has spread as well as your overall health.

Keep reading to learn more about each of these factors and how they affect pleural mesothelioma survival rates and life expectancy.

Age & Health at Time of Diagnosis

Younger patients with good health generally have a longer life expectancy than older patients or those with pre-existing conditions.

Patients in good overall health can typically undergo more aggressive treatment options that can extend their life expectancy and survival time.

  • Patients aged 50-64 years who are in generally good health have a 3-year survival rate of 23.7%, according to data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
  • Patients aged 65 or older may have other age-related health issues, which is why their 3-year survival rate is lower at 11.8%.

Cancer Stage

Pleural mesothelioma is categorized into four stages, each reflecting the extent of the cancer’s spread, or metastasis, into other areas of the body. These mesothelioma stages follow the Tumor-Node-Metastasis (TNM) staging system.

Stages 1 and 2 are considered early, while stages 3 and 4 describe cancer that’s advanced to distant organs and may be harder to treat.

StageTumor LocationAverage Life Expectancy
Stage 1The tumor is limited to one area of the pleura.21 months
Stage 2The tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes.19 months
Stage 3The tumor has spread to more distant lymph nodes and possibly other organs.16 months
Stage 4The tumor has spread to distant organs.12 months
Source: Frontiers in Oncology, 2018

Diagnosing and treating pleural mesothelioma in the early stages can significantly improve life expectancy. Still, it may be possible for late-stage patients to live longer than expected with medical care.

John Stahl
Point of Hope

Retired construction worker John Stahl was diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma in 2019. He is still alive more than 4 years later, far surpassing the average pleural mesothelioma stage 4 life expectancy of 12 months, thanks to the treatments he received.

Mesothelioma Cell Type

The type of cells that make up a patient’s mesothelioma tumors plays a critical role in their prognosis and life expectancy.

  • Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common cell type and also the most responsive to treatment; it has an average life expectancy of 14 months.
  • Biphasic mesothelioma is a mixture of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cell types and has an average life expectancy of 10 months.
  • Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive cell type and has an average life expectancy of 4 months.

Doctors can identify your cell type at the time of diagnosis and consider it when determining your mesothelioma prognosis and life expectancy.

Treatment Options

Treatment has been proven to increase pleural mesothelioma life expectancy. Your mesothelioma treatment options will vary based on your cancer stage, health, and other factors.

More aggressive treatment options like surgery combined with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation therapy offer a better chance of survival.

Find top doctors in your area for treatment. Sign up for our Free Doctor Match service to take the first step toward improving your life expectancy.

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Improving Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy With Treatment

While pleural mesothelioma remains difficult to treat, there are a range of treatment options that can help increase your length and quality of life.

Keep reading to learn more about existing and emerging treatments that can extend your survival time.

Multimodal Treatment

The best way to improve your pleural mesothelioma life expectancy is to receive a combination of two or more treatments aimed at slowing or stopping cancer spread. This approach is known as multimodal therapy and usually involves surgery.

The two major surgeries for pleural mesothelioma that can help patients live longer are:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): EPP is an extensive surgery that removes the entire cancerous lung, surrounding pleura (lung lining), portions of the diaphragm, and nearby tissues. According to data published in Translational Lung Cancer Research, patients who had EPP surgery and other treatments had an average life expectancy of 26.8 months.
  • Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): P/D is a lung-sparing surgery where the pleura is removed along with visible tumors. Patients who received P/D surgery had an average life expectancy of 34 months, based on a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.

Other treatments that can be combined with surgery include:

John Panza
Point of Hope

Cleveland musician John Panza received multimodal treatment with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to improve his pleural mesothelioma life expectancy. He’s still alive more than 12 years later despite being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.

Emerging Treatments and Clinical Trials

Besides existing therapies, new and emerging treatments being tested in clinical trials also offer patients a chance at increasing their life expectancy with pleural mesothelioma.

Examples of such treatments include:

Patients should discuss experimental therapies and clinical trials with their doctor to see if they’re eligible and determine the best approach to treatment.

Find Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Near You

Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment

The average pleural mesothelioma life expectancy without treatment is 4 to 12 months.

Results from a study published in Cancer Medicine showed that pleural mesothelioma patients who didn’t get treatment with surgery had a 5-year survival rate of 5%. The survival rate with treatment more than tripled to 16%.

Get Help Improving Your Life Expectancy With Pleural Mesothelioma

It’s possible to increase your chances of becoming a mesothelioma survivor by getting treatment from a specialist.

If you’re looking for help increasing your pleural mesothelioma life expectancy, our team can help you get the expert medical care you need.

We can connect you with:

  • Experienced local doctors
  • Hospitals and cancer centers
  • Top treatment options for your diagnosis

Reach out to us now at (866) 608-8933 or use our Free Doctor Match find the best treatment near you.

Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy FAQs

What is the average pleural mesothelioma life expectancy?

The average life expectancy for pleural mesothelioma is 18 months. However, individual outcomes can vary, and advancements in treatments as well as the overall health of the patient can influence life expectancy.

It’s crucial for anyone diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma to work with a mesothelioma doctor to explore personalized treatment options that may help them live longer and with a higher quality of life.

What is the pleural mesothelioma survival rate?

The pleural mesothelioma survival rate is typically presented as the percentage of patients who survive for a certain period after diagnosis.

Here are the 1-, 3-, and 5-year pleural mesothelioma survival rates as published by Moffitt Cancer Center:

  • 1-year survival rate: 73%
  • 3-year survival rate: 23%
  • 5-year survival rate: 12%

The above survival rates are general estimates based on past patients and may not reflect your individual experience with this cancer.

Does surgery increase life expectancy in pleural mesothelioma?

Yes, surgery can potentially extend the life expectancy of pleural mesothelioma patients. The two main options for pleural mesothelioma surgery are an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and a pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).

However, it’s important to note that the impact of surgery on pleural mesothelioma life expectancy varies based on the stage of the disease, the overall health of the patient, and how their cancer responds to treatment.

Can you cure pleural mesothelioma?

There isn’t a definitive cure for pleural mesothelioma yet. However, treatment can significantly extend survival and improve your quality of life.

Multimodal therapy with surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments can help you make more lasting memories with loved ones. For example, pleural mesothelioma survivor Arthur Putt is still alive more than 5 years after his diagnosis and enjoys spending time with his wife and family.

Jenna TozziWritten 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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References
  1. American Cancer Society. (2018, November 16). Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
  2. Breda, C., et al. (2021). Long-term outcomes after lung-sparing surgery for epithelial mesothelioma. Journal of thoracic disease, 13(11), 6283–6293. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.21037/jtd-21-691
  3. Cancer Research UK. (2023, May 23). Treatment options for pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mesothelioma/treatment/decisions-pleural
  4. Cancer Therapy Advisor. (2017). Pleural plaques/Mesothelioma. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.cancertherapyadvisor.com/home/decision-support-in-medicine/hospital-medicine/pleural-plaques-mesothelioma/
  5. Klotz, L. V., et al. (2022). Multimodal therapy of epithelioid pleural mesothelioma: improved survival by changing the surgical treatment approach. Translational lung cancer research, 11(11), 2230–2242. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.21037/tlcr-22-199
  6. Moffitt Cancer Center. (n.d.). Mesothelioma Survival Rate. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.moffitt.org/cancers/mesothelioma/survival-rate/
  7. National Cancer Institute. (2023, November 2). Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version.  Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.cancer.gov/types/mesothelioma/patient/mesothelioma-treatment-pdq#_1
  8. Penn Medicine. (n.d.). Mesothelioma Prognosis. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/prognosis
  9. National Cancer Institute. (November 2022). Mesothelioma, Recent Trends in SEER Age-Adjusted Incidence Rates, 2000-2020. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://seer.cancer.gov/statistics-network/explorer/application.html?site=111&data_type=1&graph_type=2&compareBy=sex&chk_sex_3=3&chk_sex_2=2&rate_type=2&race=1&age_range=1&stage=101&advopt_precision=1&advopt_show_ci=on&hdn_view=0&advopt_show_apc=on&advopt_display=1
  10. Rossini, M., et al. (2018). New Perspectives on Diagnosis and Therapy of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Frontiers in oncology, 8, 91. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00091
  11. Stanford Medicine. (n.d.).  Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://med.stanford.edu/ctsurgery/clinical-care/thoracic-surgery-services/malignant-pleural-mesothelioma.html
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