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Mesothelioma Prognosis

Every year, approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States. Mesothelioma is a deadly illness that currently has no known cure. It is most often linked to asbestos exposure. A mesothelioma prognosis is the overall outlook for a patient’s future after this type of diagnosis. 

While malignant mesothelioma is terminal, patients can often improve their life expectancies with certain treatments. Due to modern technology and medical advancements, even a patient who is given a poor prognosis at first could improve his or her condition and survive for many years. Learn more about mesothelioma prognosis in 2022.

Mesothelioma Prognosis and Life Expectancy

Currently, the prognosis for a patient who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is 18 to 31 months to live (known as the “life expectancy”) from the date of mesothelioma diagnosis. However, many patients have survived for 10 years and longer. Others pass away just a few months after being diagnosed. A mesothelioma prognosis is something that depends on the individual patient and specific circumstances. The only way to learn your prognosis is by speaking to your doctor.

That being said, in general, the prognosis for patients with mesothelioma has improved in recent years due to the development of new treatments and diagnostic methods. As of 2022, here are the estimated life expectancies for the different types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural mesothelioma: 3 years. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. It affects the lining of the lungs. About 75 percent of patients who are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma live for at least one year after their diagnosis.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: 1 year. This type of mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. The life expectancy is about 12 months with chemotherapy. However, about 50 percent of patients who are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma live for five years or longer with more aggressive treatments, such as surgery.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: 3 to 10 months. This is cancer in the protective sac that covers the heart. This can make treatment and surgical options more limited and reduce life expectancy. Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest types, making up just 1 percent of those diagnosed.
  • Testicular mesothelioma: 20 to 24 months. This type of cancer affects the lining of the testicles. Since surgery is generally an option to treat testicular mesothelioma, the prognosis for these patients is better than with other types.

Keep in mind that these general life expectancies may not apply to you. They are rough averages; too many factors affect a mesothelioma prognosis for an accurate average life expectancy. Additionally, advanced mesothelioma treatments and innovative medical technologies have enabled some patients to outlive their prognosis by several years.

What Factors Can Affect Prognosis?

A prognosis for mesothelioma can change according to many elements and factors. This is why it is important not to base your own expectations on an average life expectancy. Your case is singular and your prognosis is based on many things, including personal characteristics and the treatment options available to you.

Type of Mesothelioma

The type of mesothelioma is one factor that impacts a patient’s prognosis. As broken down above, pleural mesothelioma has the best prognosis. Treatments such as chemotherapy can significantly extend life expectancy. The median survival rate for a patient who is diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and receives surgery and radiation is 3.25 years. The five-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is 12 percent. 

Cell Type

Cell type also makes a difference. There are three primary mesothelioma cell types: epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic. Of these, epithelioid cells have the best prognosis, as these cancer cells spread slower and are more responsive to treatment. Sarcomatoid have the least favorable prognosis. This is a more aggressive type of cancer that is less responsive to treatment. Biphasic falls in the middle, as it depends on which cell type is dominant – epithelioid or sarcomatoid. Some patients have rare cell types; their prognosis can range significantly from just a few months to 10 years or longer.

Stage of Cancer 

The stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis makes a considerable difference to a patient’s prognosis. This is one of the most important factors in determining life expectancy, as it determines how far the cancer has spread and what treatment options are available. Diagnosing mesothelioma early, in stages 1 or 2, gives a patient a better prognosis than stages 3 and 4. In the early stages, the patient is generally eligible for more aggressive treatment options. Stage 1 mesothelioma patients have an average life expectancy of 21 months, while stage 4 patients have a life expectancy of about 12 months.

The Patient

Finally, the patient can impact a mesothelioma prognosis. The patient’s overall health and nutrition, age at the time of diagnosis, and eligibility for surgeries and treatments can all have a measurable impact on how long he or she survives with mesothelioma. A patient may be able to control this factor somewhat by enhancing his or her nutrition.

Improving a Mesothelioma Prognosis

Despite having a terminal type of cancer, mesothelioma patients are not helpless when it comes to improving their prognosis for survival and remission. Taking an aggressive approach to treatment with a multimodal plan (one that combines multiple types of treatments) can improve the prognosis and life expectancy of most patients. The most common combination of treatments for mesothelioma is:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Some treatments are more effective with certain types of mesothelioma than others. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma patients appear to benefit the most from surgery combined with a special, heated type of chemotherapy known as HIPEC. A mesothelioma patient should have a team of doctors, oncologists and specialists working together to create the ideal treatment plan for his or her unique needs.

Hope for the Future for Mesothelioma Patients

Every day, hope grows for people with mesothelioma. Groups of scientists, doctors and researchers are working daily on finding a cure for mesothelioma. Ongoing research has had many exciting breakthroughs in recent years that continue to show promise for those with this illness. 

Clinical trials may help some patients improve their prognosis with the latest drugs and potential treatments, such as photodynamic therapy or genetic therapy. Patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma can keep up with the latest treatment research for information on new developments.

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