Mesothelioma Prognosis

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with a long latency period and usually goes undiagnosed until it’s in advanced stages, making it more difficult to treat. Because of this, prognosis is often poor, with most mesothelioma patients living an average of 1 to 2 years after diagnosis.

Key Points about Mesothelioma Prognosis

  • The prognosis of a mesothelioma patient depends on the stage of the cancer, the specific cell type, and the patient’s age and overall health.
  • Mesothelioma patients generally live 1 to 2 years after diagnosis.
  • Recent advancements in detection techniques and treatment options are helping to improve prognosis for many mesothelioma patients.

A mesothelioma prognosis details how the cancer will progress following diagnosis and often includes a life expectancy estimate. Recent cancer research and clinical trials have led to steady progress in crucial areas like tumor detection, diagnosis, and treatment, improving prognosis and providing hope of survival. While the prognosis is often bleak, there is hope, and some people have survived longer than 10 years.

Understanding Terminology


A projection for how the disease is expected to progress and the overall likelihood of survival.

Survival Rate

A percentage that shows how many patients live for a given amount of time after diagnosis.

Life Expectancy

How long a patient is likely to live after diagnosis. This estimate depends on treatment success and other factors.

Primary Factors that Affect your Prognosis

Three main factors are evaluated by physicians when determining a mesothelioma prognosis: type of mesothelioma (including cell type), the cancer’s stage, and overall health.

Type of Mesothelioma

The type of mesothelioma a patient has is classified by where the cancer is located (the lungs, abdomen, or heart) and by the cancer cell types that are involved (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic). Both the location and cancer cell type affect a prognosis..


Peritoneal mesothelioma, which is located in the abdomen, has a more favorable prognosis than both pleural mesothelioma (in the lungs) and pericardial mesothelioma (in the heart). Pericardial mesothelioma patients generally have the lowest survival rates.

Cell Type

The types of cancer cells that make up your tumor (histology) impacts your prognosis as well. Patients with epithelial mesothelioma have a longer survival, on average, than those with sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Survival of patients with biphasic mesothelioma falls between patients with epithelial and sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Median Survival Times for Patients By Cell Type

19 mo
13 mo
8 mo


The stage of cancer is determined primarily by tumor size and how much it has grown or spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Detection at an early stage and immediate treatment are the best ways to improve prognosis. Few treatment options are available for late-stage mesothelioma (Stage III and IV).

Overall health

Those who are in poor health due to age, poor nutrition, or have a weakened immune system due to another disease are less able to tolerate the aggressive treatments necessary to improve prognosis.

Ways to Improve your Prognosis

Many people have benefited in recent years from advancements in diagnostic methods and cancer treatment, often discovered in clinical trials. The best way to improve a mesothelioma prognosis and increase survival, however, is to catch the disease as early as possible.

Conventional Treatments

Depending on eligibility, opting for conventional mesothelioma treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can also positively affect prognosis. Combining these treatments using multimodal therapy has also shown improved survival rates. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, be sure to consult with your doctor about all the available treatment options along with how eligible you may be for each.

Early Detection

Early detection allows those with mesothelioma to have more treatment options and higher rates of success. Because the disease has a long latency period, diagnosing it early has generally been very challenging. Although there have been advancements in early detection, a biopsy is the only definitive test.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, the only proven cause of mesothelioma, you should talk to your doctor immediately.

Clinical Trials

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are some steps you can take to increase chances of survival, life expectancy, and quality of life, including maintaining a healthy overall lifestyle and keeping stress low. For qualified individuals, enrolling in a clinical trial can be another way to improve prognosis.

A large amount of the resources being poured into mesothelioma treatment research is spent on clinical trials. Enrolling in a clinical trial does not mean you have to give up standard treatment. Many patients have benefited from the kinds of experimental treatments researched in these trials, such as gene therapy and immunotherapy.

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    Sources & About the Writer [+]
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    • About The Writer Photo of Dan Heil Dan Heil

      Dan is a contributing writer for The Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center. He hopes to help educate on everything related to a mesothelioma diagnosis and answer any questions patients or family members may have.