What Is the Survival Rate for Mesothelioma?
Survival rates are usually determined by studying groups of mesothelioma patients after they are diagnosed or have begun treatment.
The average survival rates for mesothelioma are listed in the table below.
|Time After Diagnosis||Survival Rate|
It is important to note that statistical rates alone do not determine how long a patient will live. There are several factors that can affect an individual’s overall survival time.
Factors that affect mesothelioma survival rates include:
- Age: Younger patients may respond better to treatment and may live longer.
- Mesothelioma cell types: Some mesothelioma tumors are made up of cells that grow slower and respond better to treatment.
- Type of mesothelioma: Mesothelioma can develop in the linings of different organs, and some types are easier to treat than others.
- Other factors: Patients who are otherwise healthy and diagnosed before the cancer has spread can typically undergo life-extending treatment.
Mesothelioma cancer survival rates are slowly improving with new advancements in treatment and research.
Both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma survival rates increased between 1992 and 2012, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Translational Oncology.
In some cases, patients who were given a poor mesothelioma prognosis and low chance of survival went on to live for many years after their diagnosis.
Survival Rate vs. Life Expectancy
A mesothelioma survival rate is often confused with mesothelioma life expectancy.
- Life expectancies refer to the estimated amount of time a patient is expected to live. It’s typically measured in years or months
- Survival rates refer to the number of patients who live past a given time benchmark (e.g., 1-year survival rate) and are based on the historical data of previous patients.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Type
The location and type of cancer can greatly impact mesothelioma mortality rates. Some types of mesothelioma may be easier to treat than others, improving an individual’s survival rate.
Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates
Malignant pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, is the most common type of mesothelioma.
A study comparing survival rates of 10,000 patients with pleural mesothelioma was published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology in 2010. The overall pleural mesothelioma survival rates are shown in the table below.
|Time After Diagnosis||Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates|
Patients who showed the best median survival were those who received surgery with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, rather than just one or neither of these treatments.
Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Stage
Patients who showed the best median survival were those who received multimodal treatment (a combination of more than one treatment — usually surgery with radiation and/or chemotherapy).
Pleural mesothelioma is the only type that has a staging system since the other types are less common. Mesothelioma staging is one of the most useful ways to break down survival rate data. The stage of cancer refers to its metastasis, or how far the malignant growth has spread from its original location.
The following tables are categorized by mesothelioma stage and show the overall pleural mesothelioma survival rates and times. These figures can somewhat differ by each study.
|Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 1|
|Median Survival Time||21-51 months|
|2-Year Survival Rate||41-46%|
|5-Year Survival Rate||13-16%|
|Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 2|
|Median Survival Time||19-26 months|
|2-Year Survival Rate||38%|
|5-Year Survival Rate||10%|
|Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 3|
|Median Survival Time||15-16 months|
|2-Year Survival Rate||26-30%|
|5-Year Survival Rate||5-8%|
|Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 4|
|Median Survival Time||8-12 months|
|2-Year Survival Rate||17%|
|5-Year Survival Rate||>1%|
These survival rates are approximate since the extent of metastasis varies within each general stage.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates
Peritoneal mesothelioma generally has the best prognosis compared to other types of mesothelioma. This is largely due to improved treatments that combine surgery with heated chemotherapy to limit the spread of cancer.
|Time After Diagnosis||Overall Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates|
These survival rates are greatly impacted by treatment. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients that do not receive treatment have a median survival time of under 5 months to a year after diagnosis, according to a study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Since pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma are the most common types, there is more data about their survival rates. Pericardial mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma have less available information due to their rarity.
Only about 1% of known and diagnosed mesothelioma cases have been pericardial. According to a 2013 study from the Norman Bethune College of Medicine, only a very small number of patients with pericardial mesothelioma will still be alive 1 year after diagnosis.
According to a 2019 study from the Institute of Urology at the University of Southern California, 49% of patients diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma were still alive after 5 years.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Cell Type
Mesothelioma tumors can be made up of different types of cells. Since some of these cells respond better to treatment than others, cell type also impacts mesothelioma survival rates.
Patients with mesothelioma tumors made up of epithelioid cells have the best survival rate since it generally responds well to treatment. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells tend to spread rapidly throughout the body and do not respond well to treatment.
Survival rates for the different types of mesothelioma cells include:
- Epithelioid mesothelioma: According to a study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, the two-year survival rate for epithelioid mesothelioma is 65% with treatment. The five-year survival rate is 27%.
- Sarcomatoid mesothelioma: According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, 20% of patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma were alive after two years, and none were alive after five years.
- Biphasic mesothelioma: According to the Institute of Urology at the University of Southern California biphasic tumors were associated with a lower overall survival rate than those with epithelioid mesothelioma. Biphasic tumors are a combination of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Patient Demographic
Survival rates of mesothelioma can also be affected by patient demographics. Most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are Caucasian American men over the age of 65.
Although mesothelioma primarily affects men, females who have mesothelioma tend to live longer than males. Medical experts believe differences in asbestos exposure levels and hormones could contribute to women’s better prognosis.
The chart below shows the overall mesothelioma survival rates broken down by gender.
|Survival Rate After Diagnosis||Male||Female|
|1 Year Survival Rate||37.6%||45.4%|
|2 Year Survival Rate||17.4%||29.3%|
|3 Year Survival Rate||10.4%||22.2%|
|4 Year Survival Rate||7.7%||18.6%|
|5 Year Survival Rate||5.9%||16.0%|
Older patients have a significantly lower survival rate than younger mesothelioma patients. Age affects survival rates because younger patients are typically in better overall health and respond better to treatment such as aggressive surgeries that may cause complications in elderly patients.
|Age Group||Overall Survival Rate|
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mesothelioma affects Caucasian Americans more than any other race.
From 1999 to 2015, nearly 95% of all people who died in the U.S. due to mesothelioma were Caucasian Americans.
A 2015 study indicated that 84% of mesothelioma patients under the age of 40 and 92% of elderly patients were all Caucasian.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates After Treatment
Mesothelioma patients are highly encouraged to seek cancer treatment to improve their survival time.
Mesothelioma treatment plans typically aim to kill as many cancer cells as possible through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these treatments to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Mesothelioma Surgery Survival Rates
Mesothelioma surgery removes visible cancer tumors and any tumors that have spread to other parts of the body. Different types of surgery will be performed depending on the patient’s type of mesothelioma.
Survival rates for the different types of pleural mesothelioma surgeries include:
- Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): The median survival time for patients who received EPP was 18 months, according to 24 years’ worth of data analyzed by mesothelioma specialists David Sugarbaker, Raphael Bueno, and William G. Richards.
- Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D): According to a 2017 study, patients who received a P/D lived for 10-25 months on average after surgery.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates With Chemotherapy
Cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) after surgery or HIPEC alone can greatly improve survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
According to the University of Maryland Medical System, 69% of mesothelioma patients will still be alive 5 years after receiving this procedure.
One study observed the outcomes of patients who received this multimodal combination treatment and followed up with them over five years.
The results found the following 5-year survival rates:
- 67% for patients who received adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy
- 62% for those who received perioperative (during surgery) chemotherapy
- 56% for patients in the study who didn’t receive any chemotherapy
Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART) Survival Rates
Some pleural mesothelioma patients receive a high dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) followed by an EPP through the SMART approach.
Clinical studies found that this procedure improved survival rates significantly when compared to a surgery-first approach. With just surgery, the 3-year pleural mesothelioma survival rate was 32%. With SMART, the survival rate skyrocketed to 72%.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates With Multimodal Therapy
Multimodal therapy often yields the best results for mesothelioma patients.
A trimodal approach of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for pleural mesothelioma has proven to be the most effective method of treatment for increasing survival.
Multimodal therapy is also proven to be the best approach to treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. This is seen through combination treatments like cytoreduction with HIPEC, which is a form of multimodal therapy since it combines both surgery and chemotherapy.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment
Mesothelioma survival rates for patients that do not undergo life-extending treatment are low since the cancer will continue to spread if left untreated.
In a 2015 study, peritoneal mesothelioma patients who could not undergo surgery had median survival times of 11 months if they received palliative chemotherapy. Patients who received general supportive care lived for less than 3 months on average.
However, life-extending treatments such as invasive surgery may not be a safe option for patients with a late-stage diagnosis. Specialists can give these patients an estimated life expectancy if treatments are unavailable and recommend other options to ease pain or symptoms.
Stories from Mesothelioma Survivors
There are mesothelioma victims that have surpassed low survival rates and have lived long, happy lives. Learn more about how these three people made the most from life with mesothelioma.
George was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2014 after complaining of shortness of breath.
Faced with a terminal diagnosis, George defined life on his own terms by visiting close friends and golfing with his son while undergoing chemotherapy. He lived long enough to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and become a grandfather.
Today, George’s widow and family continue to honor his legacy by participating in mesothelioma advocacy events in his memory.
Richard received a mesothelioma diagnosis in October 2017 after suffering from chest pain and difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, asbestos — the only known cause of mesothelioma — had been present throughout Richard’s life.
His mother worked at an asbestos textile factory in Ohio during his childhood and he joined the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s. All branches of the U.S. military used asbestos-based products to build planes, ships, vehicles, and bases from the 1930s to the 1980s.
Though doctors initially gave Richard a week to live, he beat the odds and survived for much longer.
Mike was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 29 and was initially given less than a year to live. Mike had no idea that his initially mild symptoms, including shortness of breath, could have been the result of this deadly cancer.
Despite this grim prognosis, Mike continued on to fight his battle until he passed in 2021. He had endured numerous surgeries and joined the few survivors who have attained long-term survival. Mike will be remembered as an avid advocate for a ban on asbestos-containing products.
Improve Your Mesothelioma Survival Rate
A mesothelioma survival rate can give you a better idea of what your prognosis is, but it does not define how long you may live after your diagnosis.
Treatment options like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and more may be available to you to improve your overall survival time.
The Mesothelioma Hope team can help connect you with mesothelioma specialists in your area so you can learn more about treatment that may help you live longer. Contact us to get matched with a doctor today.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates FAQs
What is the survival rate for mesothelioma?
The survival rate for mesothelioma is generally calculated in time increments of 1, 2, and 5 years. The average survival rate for 1 year after diagnosis is 73%, 3 years after diagnosis is 22.9%, and 5 years after diagnosis is 10%.
These figures can vary depending on the data from different studies as well as the type and stage of mesothelioma.
Can you survive mesothelioma?
Yes. Although mesothelioma does have a poor prognosis with low survival rates, there are many mesothelioma survivors that have outlived their calculated life expectancy.
What can improve my mesothelioma survival rate?
Several different treatment options such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation can all improve a patient’s survival rate for mesothelioma. These treatments aim to kill cancer cells to prevent the spread of the disease.
What's the longest someone has lived with mesothelioma?
Holocaust survivor Paul Kraus was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and was originally told he had less than 6 months left to live. More than 20 years after his diagnosis, Paul is now the longest-living mesothelioma survivor in the world.