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Mesothelioma Survival Rate

The mesothelioma survival rate is the percentage of patients who are alive after a certain period of time following their diagnosis. Mesothelioma has a 5-year survival rate of 12%. Seeking treatment is the most effective way to improve your survival rate. Learn how Mesothelioma Hope can get you the medical guidance and personalized care you need to fight this cancer.

Medically reviewed by: Mark Levin, MD

Last updated:

What Is the Survival Rate of Mesothelioma?

The 5-year survival rate of mesothelioma is 12%, which means 12% of individuals diagnosed with this cancer are expected to be alive five years after their diagnosis.

Survival rates are often provided as part of your prognosis (projected health outlook) and vary based on the type of mesothelioma, cancer stage, cell type, treatment, and other factors.

While mesothelioma survival rates provide valuable information, they should not overshadow the potential for progress, hope, and personalized care in each patient’s journey.

Mesothelioma Survival Statistics

The chart below shows average mesothelioma survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years.

Time After Mesothelioma DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 year43.7%
3 years16.8%
5 years12%
Sources: National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Database and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

These percentages are based on large numbers of past patients. Many factors can influence your prognosis, especially the type of treatment you receive and how your cancer responds.

Is Mesothelioma Survival Rate the Same Thing as Life Expectancy?

No. Mesothelioma life expectancy is the estimated time a patient is projected to live. It’s typically measured in years or months. The average mesothelioma life expectancy is 12-21 months.

Mesothelioma survival rates provide a high-level snapshot of how many people survive for a certain period after diagnosis, but they can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case.

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Survival Rates for Each Type of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma survival rates vary depending on the type of mesothelioma, which is determined by where the cancer forms in the body. Learn how the location of this cancer impacts overall survival below.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs (pleura) and is the most common type of mesothelioma.

The chart below shows average pleural mesothelioma survival rates.

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 year73%
3 years23%
5 years12%
10 years5%
Source: Moffitt Cancer Center

These survival rates are significantly higher when patients undergo pleural mesothelioma surgery.

The two major types of pleural mesothelioma surgery are:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): Doctors remove the lung closest to the cancer and all visible tumors from the heart lining, lymph nodes, and diaphragm. Patients who received an EPP, chemotherapy, and radiation had a 5-year survival rate of 24%, according to a report published in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.
  • Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): Doctors remove the lung lining and all visible cancer but spare both lungs. The 5-year mesothelioma survival rate after surgery with P/D was 29%, according to a report in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and generally has the best prognosis compared to other types of this cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer survival rates are provided in the chart below.

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 year92%
3 years74%
5 years65%
10 years39%
Source: Moffitt Cancer Center

Patients who are eligible for peritoneal mesothelioma surgery have higher survival rates. Over two-thirds of patients (69%) are still alive 5 years after receiving cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC (heated chemotherapy), according to the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Survival Rates for Rare Mesothelioma Types

Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are two very rare types of this cancer. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the heart lining (pericardium), and testicular mesothelioma starts in the lining of the testicles.

Survival rates for each type of mesothelioma are shown in the table below.

Time After DiagnosisPericardial Mesothelioma Survival RateTesticular Mesothelioma Survival Rate
1 year26%Not reported
3 years14%Not reported
5 years9%49%
10 yearsNot reported33%
Sources: Moffitt Cancer Center, Urology journal

You may be able to improve your survival rate with treatment from a mesothelioma specialist. Use our Free Doctor Match to find top surgeons and oncologists near you.

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Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Stage

Mesothelioma staging is one of the most useful ways to break down survival rate data. The stage of mesothelioma refers to how far the cancer has spread within the body at the time of diagnosis.

Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of this cancer that uses an official staging framework. It is known as the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system, and it’s the global standard for classifying cancer spread.

The chart below shows pleural mesothelioma life expectancy and survival rates by stage for patients treated with surgery.

Mesothelioma StageLife Expectancy2-Year Survival Rate5-Year Survival Rate
Stage 119.2 months39%11%
Stage 219.2 months39%11%
Stage 318.9 months41%13%
Stage 413.1 months31%11%
Source: National Cancer Database (NCDB)
*Note: NCDB data indicates no difference in life expectancy or survival rates between Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Many survivors have defied these statistics and lived much longer than their mesothelioma doctors predicted. Take John Stahl, for example, a retired construction worker who was diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma in 2019 and is still thriving more than 4 years later.

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.

Survival Rate by Mesothelioma Cell Type

Mesothelioma tumors are made up of different types of cells, and each type can greatly impact patient survival. The three mesothelioma cell types are epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic (a mixture of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells).

The epithelial mesothelioma survival rate is the highest since these cells spread more slowly and respond well to treatment. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells tend to spread rapidly through the body and are more resistant to treatment.

Mesothelioma survival rates with surgery for all three cell types are shown below.

Cell Type2-Year Survival Rate 2-Year Survival Rate
Epithelioid45%14%
Sarcomatoid15%4%
Biphasic22%5%
Source: NCDB

Call our team right now at (866) 608-8933 to get help accessing life-extending treatment. Our registered nurses and Patient Advocates can connect you with the very best mesothelioma doctors for your diagnosis, stage, and cell type.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Patient Demographics

Most mesothelioma patients are men over the age of 65. However, anyone can develop mesothelioma, and some demographic factors can help or hinder long-term survival.

The charts below show how sex, age, and race affect survival rates for mesothelioma.

Sex

Though mesothelioma mainly affects men, women diagnosed with mesothelioma tend to live longer.

Time After DiagnosisMaleFemale
1 year41.3%51%
3 years13.6%26.5%
5 years8%18.8%
Source: NCI SEER Database

Age

Older patients have lower survival rates than younger mesothelioma patients.

Younger patients are typically in good overall health and respond better to surgery and other treatments that can help them live longer.

Age GroupOverall 5-Year Survival Rate
Under 5044.7%
50-6421.2%
65 and up8.3%
All ages13.5%
Source: NCI SEER Database

Race

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black mesothelioma patients have the lowest survival rates of any race, as noted by a review of NCI SEER data published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Race1-Year Survival Rate3-Year Survival Rate5-Year Survival Rate
Asian or Pacific Islander31%6%2%
Black29%5%1%
White33.2%6.5%2.1%

Improving Mesothelioma Survival

Multimodal therapy, which combines two or more treatment methods, is the most effective strategy to improve mesothelioma survival times.

Mesothelioma treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible or to remove a portion of the cancer to improve a patient’s quality of life
  • Chemotherapy with cancer-killing drugs administered before and/or during tumor-removing surgery
  • Immunotherapy to help the body’s immune system identify and attack mesothelioma cells
  • Radiation therapy with high-energy waves to damage the DNA of cancer cells and shrink tumors
  • Clinical trials testing new or experimental medications and treatment combinations to increase survival rates

Mesothelioma Hope can help you access treatment at top cancer centers in your area. Use our Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match to get started.

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Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

The mesothelioma survival rate for patients who do not undergo treatment is low because this cancer will continue to spread if left untreated.

For example, a study published in Cancer Medicine found that pleural mesothelioma patients who didn’t get surgery had a 5-year survival rate of just 5%. The survival rate more than tripled to 16% for the patients who did get surgery.

Remember: Seeking treatment is the best way to improve your mesothelioma survival rate. Our team can help you access top mesothelioma treatments at the best cancer centers in the country. Contact us to get started.

Stories of Mesothelioma Survivors

Many patients who were originally given a poor mesothelioma prognosis and a low chance of survival have gone on to live for years.

Read about mesothelioma survivors who beat the odds and far outlived average survival rates.

Arthur's Story

  • Diagnosis: Pleural mesothelioma
  • Year of Diagnosis: 2018
  • Treatment: Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

Arthur “Art” Putt first complained of shortness of breath in early 2018. Following a series of tests, doctors confirmed he had pleural mesothelioma.

Originally given 6 months to live, Art proved his doctors wrong by undergoing treatment and incorporating a nutrient-rich mesothelioma diet.

“Get as close to the people in your family and friends as you can. Stay positive and keep a positive attitude.”

- Art Putt, Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor

Julie's Story

  • Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Year of Diagnosis: 2006
  • Treatment: Chemotherapy and cytoreduction with HIPEC

Julie Gundlach received a shocking peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis just after losing her father to asbestos-caused lung cancer. He was an electrician who worked with asbestos products and brought tiny asbestos fibers home on his clothing.

Julie was only in her 30s when she was diagnosed and given 6-12 months to live. But, after undergoing a wide range of treatments, her cancer is now stable. This means it’s no longer growing or spreading.

“My biggest fear was that my daughter would grow up and not remember her mother.”

- Julie Gundlach, Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivor

John's Story

  • Diagnosis: Pleural mesothelioma
  • Year of Diagnosis: 2012
  • Treatment: Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation

John Panza’s life took a dramatic turn when, at the age of 38, he received the news that he had stage 3 malignant pleural mesothelioma. With the determination to defy the odds, John underwent a series of treatments, including surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Throughout his journey, John has remained deeply grateful for the unwavering support of his family and the mesothelioma community.

“You might surprise yourself with how strong you are. I’ve been fighting nonstop for more than a decade.”

- John Panza, Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor

In Memoriam: Mary Jane's Story

  • Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Year of Diagnosis: 2003
  • Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery

After suffering from abdominal swelling and dramatic weight loss, Mary Jane Williams was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and given just 8 months to live.

She and her husband took 43 trips from their home state of Ohio to New York so she could undergo lifesaving treatments at top cancer centers, and their efforts paid off. Mary Jane was able to achieve remission from mesothelioma for 14 years before she passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.

“I just decided it was not going to beat me.”

- Mary Jane Williams, Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivor

Get our Free Survivors Guide to read more inspiring stories of mesothelioma patients who chose to fight this cancer and defied survival statistics.

Get Help Surviving Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma survival rates can give you more context about your prognosis, but they only paint a partial picture of the journey ahead.

The resilience of the human spirit and advancements in treatment options are continually redefining what’s possible in the fight against mesothelioma. Even in the face of a low survival rate, it may be possible for you to live for many years longer than expected.

Mesothelioma Hope’s nursing support team has been helping patients access trusted medical guidance, financial assistance, and supportive care for over 20 years.

Call us today at (866) 608-8933 or use our Free Doctor Match to get the help you need to survive mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Survival Rate FAQs

Can you survive mesothelioma?

Yes. While a mesothelioma diagnosis presents significant challenges, advancements in treatment and an improved understanding of the disease offer hope for higher survival rates.

With early detection, personalized treatment, and access to cutting-edge therapies in clinical trials, mesothelioma patients have not only survived but thrived many years after their diagnosis.

What are the odds of beating mesothelioma?

The odds of beating mesothelioma depend on several factors, including the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, the type of mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial), the patient’s overall health, and the chosen treatment approach.

Survival rates are continually evolving as new treatments emerge, so it’s crucial to stay informed and explore all available options with a mesothelioma specialist if  you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this cancer.

What is the stage 1 mesothelioma survival rate?

Mesothelioma has a 1-year survival rate of about 44%. This means almost half of patients diagnosed are still alive 1 year later.

However, it’s important to note that this statistic alone isn’t an indicator of how your cancer will progress. You could potentially live longer with the expertise of a mesothelioma specialist and the right combination of treatments.

Has anyone survived mesothelioma?

Yes, there are many mesothelioma patients who’ve achieved long-term survival, living for 15 years or more in some cases.

By advocating for themselves and actively participating in their treatment decisions, these survivors shaped their own destinies and reclaimed their lives from the grip of mesothelioma.

How long can you live with mesothelioma without treatment?

Pleural mesothelioma has an average life expectancy of 4 to 12 months without treatment, based on a Cancer Therapy Advisor report.

According to a 2020 study in Translational Lung Cancer Research, the median overall survival of peritoneal mesothelioma without treatment is 6 months to 1 year.

It’s highly recommended to explore your treatment options with a mesothelioma specialist after a diagnosis. Some patients who were given just months to live survived for many more years with the right medical care.

How many people have survived mesothelioma?

There are numerous cases of people who have surpassed their initial prognosis and survived mesothelioma. Each survivor’s story offers hope and inspiration to the 3,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

Their experiences also underscore the importance of seeking professional medical guidance, getting a personalized treatment plan, and receiving support from patient advocacy groups and organizations like Mesothelioma Hope.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help. Contact us today to connect with one of our Patient Advocates.

Is mesothelioma curable if caught early?

There’s no official cure for mesothelioma yet, but patients who are diagnosed early have a better chance of going into remission or potentially being declared cancer-free.

In the early stages of mesothelioma, the cancer is still relatively confined to one area of the body and easier to treat with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Dr. Mark LevinReviewed 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
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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