Less than half of people diagnosed with mesothelioma survive more than a year, less than 10 percent survive more than three years.
Key Points about Mesothelioma Survival Rate
- Location, stage, and cell type of mesothelioma as well as overall patient health, have the greatest impact on survival rate.
- The survival rate for mesothelioma patients is improving in part because of improvements in treatment options.
What is Survival Rate and How Long Will I Live With Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma survival rate is a measurement (usually expressed as a percentage) of the amount of patients who survive a given amount of time after diagnosis. Survival rates are a way for doctors to talk to patients about their overall prognosis, or disease outlook. It helps inform patients about how aggressive or treatable the disease is known to be. Because there are a number of factors that impact survival, it’s difficult to answer with any kind of certainty how long a mesothelioma patient will live.
If a patient wishes to know how their specific circumstances impact their survival, their doctor may give them a life expectancy estimate, or how long the patient may live following their individual diagnosis.
- Patients who live 1 year or more // 30-40 percent
- Patients who live 2 years or more // 15-20 percent
- Patients who live 5 years or more // 5-10 percent
Factors that Impact Mesothelioma Survival Rate
Type of Mesothelioma
The location where mesothelioma originates can impact a patient’s chances of survival. Pleural and peritoneal are the two most common types of mesothelioma, and recent studies show that the survival rates of these types of mesothelioma are improving thanks in part to advancements in treatment. A 2015 study found the following survival rates for these types of mesothelioma:
|1 year||5 years||10 years|
|Pleural||73 percent||12 percent||4.7 percent|
|Peritoneal||91.6 percent||65.3 percent||39.4 percent|
Of the three major malignant mesothelioma subtypes — epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic — epithelioid mesothelioma tends to progress more slowly and is much more likely to respond to cancer treatment, while sarcomatoid is the most aggressive of the three. Prognosis for biphasic patients usually falls somewhere between the other two types, but as the percentage of sarcomatoid cells increases, the duration of survival decreases.
Stage of Mesothelioma
The stage of mesothelioma at the time of a diagnosis is heavily factored into determining a patient’s likelihood of long term survival. It is important to note that pleural mesothelioma is the only type with an official staging system. Patients with early stage mesothelioma who respond well to treatment have the best survival rates while late stage mesothelioma is usually treated palliatively given the increasingly limited treatment options.Stage
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is most often diagnosed in the later stages given the long latency period and delayed onset of symptoms, which mimic more common illnesses.
- Stage I: 21 months
- Stage II: 19 months
- Stage III: 16 months
- Stage IV: 12 months
There are also a number of patient-specific circumstances that impact a patient’s chances of survival, including their age, sex, and genetics.
Older mesothelioma patients generally have poorer survival rates because they cannot tolerate aggressive treatments as well as younger patients, and are often managing other chronic conditions.
Studies show that women with pleural mesothelioma appear to have better survival rates than men. For instance, 13.4% of women with pleural mesothelioma survived at least 5 years, compared to 4.5% of male patients with similar characteristics. This may be because men, who account for 80% of all mesothelioma cases, are predominantly exposed during industry-related work, while women are often exposed secondhand by spouses, family, or friends who bring asbestos dust back home on clothing. Research is still being done to determine why there is such a discrepancy despite age, cancer stage, race, or treatment.
There have been some studies that show certain genetic factors play a role in how long mesothelioma patients survive after diagnosis. One example is patients who carry mutated BRCA1-associated protein-1 (BAP1) have better survival rates.
Impact of Treatment on Survival Rate
A patient’s chances of survival depend greatly on their treatment options and the effectiveness of the treatment. For patients who are able to tolerate surgery that successfully removes the tumor, survival rates tend to be higher.
Significant improvements in survival have also been seen in patients who undergo multimodal therapy, or therapy that combines surgery with other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a significantly better survival rate, thanks in large part to advancements in treatment options for peritoneal mesothelioma, namely hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which combines cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy.