Mesothelioma Survival Rate

A mesothelioma survival rate describes how many patients are still alive after a certain period of time has passed. About 10% of patients with malignant mesothelioma will still be alive after 5 years, showing that long-term survival is possible. Learn more about mesothelioma survival rates and how you can live longer.

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

What Is the Mesothelioma Survival Rate?

Survival rate is the percent of malignant mesothelioma patients that are still alive a certain number of months or years after diagnosis.

The overall 5-year mesothelioma cancer survival rate is 10%, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

That said, the average survival rates can vary greatly depending on what type of mesothelioma you have, the treatments you receive, and many other factors. The 5-year survival rates for each mesothelioma type are listed below.

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 year73%
3 years22.9%
5 years10%

Since long-term mesothelioma survival rates are often poor, it can be scary to think about them. However, mesothelioma survival rates are just averages and you may be able to become a long-term survivor with medical care.

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Factors That Affect Mesothelioma Survival Rates

There are several factors that affect mesothelioma survival rates and how long you’ll live after a diagnosis.

Factors that can affect a mesothelioma survival rate 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 more slowly and respond better to treatment (like epithelioid cells).
  • 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 who are 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.

In some cases, patients who were given a poor mesothelioma prognosis and low chance of survival have gone on to live for many years after their diagnosis.

Survival Rates for Each Type of Mesothelioma

What type of mesothelioma someone has can greatly affect how long they live for. Some types of mesothelioma are easier to treat than others. Thus, mesothelioma survival rates differ by each type.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Malignant pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, is the most common type of mesothelioma. However, its long-term survival rates are lower when compared to some of the other types of this cancer.

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rates
6 months55%
1 year33%
5 years5%

Pleural mesothelioma survival times have been steadily increasing over the decades thanks to treatment breakthroughs, according to a 2022 report from researchers at Heidelberg University Hospital.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Peritoneal mesothelioma generally has the best prognosis compared to other types of mesothelioma.

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 Year92%
3 Year74%
5 Year65%
10 Year39%

Survival rates are much better among peritoneal mesothelioma patients thanks to effective treatments. A combination of surgery and heated chemotherapy can of limit the spread of this cancer for long spans of time.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare form of this cancer (making up fewer than 1% of all reported cases). It forms in the lining of the heart and has arguably the worst survival rates of any type.

The average 1-year survival rate for pericardial mesothelioma is about 22%, according to the medical journal Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. The 5-year survival rate is only 9%.

Testicular Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type of this cancer and develops in the lining of the testicles. Though it’s very rare, patients with this type have relatively good long-term survival rates.

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.

The patient advocates at Mesothelioma Hope can help you find ways to improve your mesothelioma survival rate. Find out your eligibility by calling (866) 608-8933 now.

Mesothelioma Survival Rate by Cell Type

Mesothelioma tumors can be made up of different types of cells. Because some of these cells respond better to treatment than others, cell type also impacts mesothelioma survival rates.

The following tables show the two- and five-year survival rates for sarcomatoid and epithelioid mesothelioma with treatment, as reported by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma
2-Year Survival Rate65%
5-Year Survival Rate27%
Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma
2-Year Survival Rate20%
5-Year Survival Rate0%

Patients with mesothelioma tumors made up of epithelioid cells have the best survival rates because these tumors generally respond well to treatment.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells tend to spread rapidly throughout the body and do not respond well to treatment.

Biphasic tumors are a combination of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Patients with biphasic mesothelioma have lower overall survival rates than epithelioid patients, according to the Institute of Urology at the University of Southern California. However, patients with this cell type often live longer than sarcomatoid patients do.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates By Stage

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

Pleural mesothelioma is the only type that has a staging system. View pleural mesothelioma survival rates by stage below.

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 1
Median Survival Time21 months
2-Year Survival Rate45%
5-Year Survival Rate16%
Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 2
Median Survival Time19 months
2-Year Survival Rate41%
5-Year Survival Rate13%
Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 3
Median Survival Time16 months
2-Year Survival Rate37%
5-Year Survival Rate11%
Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 4
Median Survival Time12 months
2-Year Survival Rate26%
5-Year Survival Rate4%

Mesothelioma survival rates are lower in the later stages as distant metastasis (cancer spread to faraway organs like the brain) may have occurred, which means the cancer will be harder to treat.

Our team can help you pursue treatments to improve your mesothelioma survival rate no matter what stage of cancer you have. Learn more in our Free Mesothelioma Guide — shipped overnight to your door.

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Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Patient Demographics

Most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are men over the age of 65. However, anyone can develop this cancer and some demographic factors can help or hinder a patient’s survival.

Sex

Although mesothelioma primarily affects men, women with mesothelioma tend to live longer than men.

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

Survival RateMaleFemale
1 Year Survival Rate37.6%45.4%
2 Year Survival Rate17.4%29.3%
3 Year Survival Rate10.4%22.2%
4 Year Survival Rate7.7%18.6%
5 Year Survival Rate5.9%16.0%

Age

Older patients have a significantly lower survival rate than younger mesothelioma patients.

Age affects survival rates as younger patients are typically in good overall health and respond better to treatment, such as aggressive surgeries that may cause complications in elderly patients.

Age GroupOverall Survival Rate
Under 5057.2%
50-6451.2%
65-7440.9%
Over 7528.5%

Race

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mesothelioma affects white people more than any other race.

From 1999 to 2015, nearly 95% of all people who died in the U.S. due to mesothelioma were white.

A recent study also indicated that 84% of mesothelioma patients under the age of 40 and 92% of elderly patients were white.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates After Treatment

Mesothelioma patients are highly encouraged to seek cancer treatment after diagnosis. Patients may be able to live much longer and defy average survival rates with treatment from mesothelioma specialists.

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.

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Mesothelioma Surgery Survival Rates

Mesothelioma surgery removes visible cancer tumors from the body. Different types of surgery will be performed depending on the patient’s type of mesothelioma.

Learn about mesothelioma survival rates after surgery below.

  • Cytoreduction with HIPECUsed to fight peritoneal mesothelioma, this treatment combines heated chemotherapy and abdominal surgery. Patients that receive this treatment have a 5-year survival rate of 47%, according to the journal Cancer Management and Research.
  • Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery is used to treat pleural mesothelioma. It allows doctors to remove a lung closest to the cancer and as much of the cancer tumors as possible. Patients have a 5-year survival rate of roughly 24% when doctors use an EPP, chemotherapy, and radiation together.
  • Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D): Also used to treat pleural mesothelioma, doctors remove the lung lining and all of the cancer they can see but spare both lungs. Patients can recover with fewer risks than an EPP because of this. The 5-year survival rate of this surgery is about 44%.

Chemotherapy and Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Chemotherapy treatments are cancer-killing drugs that doctors administer. When used alone or with other treatments, chemotherapy often plays a big role in improving mesothelioma survival rates.

Pleural mesothelioma patients had a 2-year survival rate of about 27% when treated with just chemotherapy, according to a 2020 study.

Chemotherapy may also be used before or after surgery to kill cancer cells and help patients live longer.

A 2022 report from the Journal of Clinical Haematology found that the 5-year survival rate of peritoneal mesothelioma patients was 80% if they were treated using cytoreduction with HIPEC and follow-up chemotherapy.

SMART: Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy

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 surgery alone, the 3-year pleural mesothelioma survival rate was 32%. With SMART, the survival rate skyrocketed to 72%.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

Mesothelioma survival rates for patients who do not undergo life-extending treatment are low, as the cancer will continue to spread if left untreated.

There is not a lot of notable data about mesothelioma survival rates without treatment. That said, pleural mesothelioma patients typically live 4-12 months if they don’t get treated. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients that don’t receive treatment only live around 6-12 months.

Remember: Seeking treatment is the best way to outlive average mesothelioma survival rates. Our team can help you access top mesothelioma treatments and doctors right now. Use our free Mesothelioma Specialist Match tool to find a doctor near you.

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Stories from Mesothelioma Survivors

There are mesothelioma victims who have surpassed low survival rates and have lived long, happy lives. These patients are known as mesothelioma survivors.

George
Diagnosed in 2014

George was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after complaining of shortness of breath. Faced with a terminal diagnosis, George defined life on his own terms and received chemotherapy to fight his cancer.

He lived long enough to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and to become a grandfather.

Today, George’s widow and family continue to honor his legacy by participating in mesothelioma advocacy events in his memory.

Julie
Diagnosed in 2006

Julie was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma after experiencing digestive issues. Doctors originally thought she’d live only 6-12 months. However, she’s still alive today.

Julie has undergone five intensive surgeries, as well as chemotherapy, to help improve her prognosis. Thanks to treatment, Julie outlived her initial prognosis and is now in stable condition.

Today, Julie promotes mesothelioma awareness and advocates for a total ban on asbestos (the only known cause of this cancer) in the United States.

Richard
Diagnosed in 2017

Richard received a mesothelioma diagnosis after suffering from chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Richard had been exposed to asbestos throughout his life. His mother worked at an asbestos textile factory and he later served in the U.S. Air Force. Veterans are at a higher risk of mesothelioma as all branches of the U.S. military used asbestos 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
Diagnosed in 2011

Mike was diagnosed with mesothelioma when he was only 29. Mike had no idea that his initially mild symptoms, like shortness of breath, were caused by this deadly cancer.

Mike was initially given less than a year to live. Despite this grim prognosis, he continued to fight. He endured numerous surgeries and lived for nearly a decade after his diagnosis until he passed in 2020.

Mike will be remembered as a vocal advocate for a ban on asbestos-containing products.

Outliving Average Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Mesothelioma survival rates 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 help you live longer.

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help connect you with specialists in your area. With their help, you can pursue treatments that may help you outlive average mesothelioma survival rates. Use our free Mesothelioma Specialist Match to find treatment today.

Mesothelioma Survival Rate FAQs

Can you survive mesothelioma?

Possibly, yes. Many people do survive mesothelioma.

Factors such as available treatments, age, mesothelioma cell type, and the type of mesothelioma can affect an individual’s survival rate.

However, patients who forgo mesothelioma treatment have a lower chance of surviving mesothelioma.

What is the survival rate for mesothelioma?

The 5-year survival rate of mesothelioma is 10%. Survival rates can vary depending on what type of mesothelioma you have, though.

The 5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma (the most common type) is 12%. Peritoneal mesothelioma (which is less common but more easily treated) has a 5-year survival rate of 47%.

Is mesothelioma survival rate the same thing as life expectancy?

No. A mesothelioma survival rate is often confused with mesothelioma life expectancy.

Life expectancy refers to the estimated amount of time a patient is projected to live. It’s typically measured in years or months. The average mesothelioma life expectancy is 12-21 months.

Survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live past a set amount of time (i.e. months or years).

What can improve my mesothelioma survival rate?

Several different treatment options — such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation — can improve a patient’s survival rate for mesothelioma.

These treatments aim to kill cancer cells to prevent the spread of the disease.

Without treatment, it’s very unlikely that you’ll outlive the average mesothelioma survival rates.

What's the longest someone has lived with mesothelioma?

Paul Kraus is the longest-living mesothelioma survivor in the world.

Paul was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and was originally told he had less than 6 months to live.

Diagnosed in 1997, Paul is still alive over 25 years after his diagnosis.

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

Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of passionate health advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. Our team works tirelessly to give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma. Learn more about operating principles and our Editorial Guidelines.

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