What is a Survival Rate?
Mesothelioma patients hear a lot about life expectancy and survival rates after they have been diagnosed. This information can be confusing and create uncertainty about what to expect.
Life expectancy and survival rates are different. A life expectancy is the amount of time given in months that a patient has to live after they have been diagnosed.
In contrast, a survival rate is the percentage of patients who have survived for a certain period of time after diagnosis. Survival rates are typically given in 12-month, 3-year or 5-year timeframes.
For mesothelioma in general, 40 percent of patients survive one year after diagnosis. Roughly 9 percent of patients survive five years.
Survival rates are drawn from patient data from several years prior and from multiple studies. Because mesothelioma research and treatments are constantly advancing, today’s survival rates may not reflect these advancements. This means that survival rates can be more favorable for today’s patients.
Survival Rate Factors
Survival rates are drawn from studies conducted on groups of patients with the same diagnosis. Survival rates are helpful in communicating general expectations with patients, but they are not meant to predict exactly what will happen to you.
Survival rate factors to consider include:
- Demographics like age, gender and race
- Types of treatments prescribed
- Individual response to treatment
- Overall health level
Doctors do their best to communicate how survival rates can be different from patient to patient. This helps them to set more realistic and individual expectations for their patients.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease. It has the most historical data to use in estimating survival rates.
Researchers have estimated the following survival rates for pleural mesothelioma:
- 1-year survival rate is 73%
- 3-year survival rate is 23%
- 5-survival rate is 12%
- 10-year survival rate is 4.7%
In general, pleural mesothelioma survival rates are better in younger patients (those under 65 years old) who can have the mesothelioma tumors surgically removed. Women are also more likely to survive past five years with pleural mesothelioma. The 5-year survival rate for women is 13.4% compared to 4.5% for men.
Peritoneal mesothelioma has higher estimated survival rates than pleural mesothelioma. This may be due to the less aggressive nature of peritoneal mesothelioma and its higher surgical success rates.
The estimated survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients are:
- 1-year survival rate is 92%
- 3-year survival rate is 74%
- 5-year survival rate is 65%
- 10-year survival rate is 39%
Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common form of the disease. It has the fewest cases to draw data from.
With the limited cases researchers do know about, they have estimated the following pericardial mesothelioma survival rates:
- 1-year survival rate is 51%
- 3-year survival rate is 26%
- 5-year survival rate is 23%
There is not enough data at this time to produce a 10-year survival rate for pericardial mesothelioma.
Improving Survival Rates
Mesothelioma survival rates are expected to continue to improve with emerging treatments and ongoing research. Many survival rates published today are from studies using small sample sizes. These studies have not been adjusted for every factor, especially the types of treatments used.
Each case of mesothelioma is different and each patient’s situation is unique. No two people experience mesothelioma the same way, especially when it comes to treatment response.
Survival rates continue to improve as more patients are empowered by ongoing research and benefit from new developments in treatment technologies.
Talk to your health care team about the latest treatment options available for your unique case of mesothelioma.