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Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on June 27, 2022

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to realize that every case is unique. Researching survival rates will not give you an accurate depiction of what to expect. Only your doctor can give you a survival rate, and even this is just an educated guess. Mesothelioma treatment options are constantly improving and hope for a cure is always available. With that being said, below is some basic information about average mesothelioma survival rates.

Is Mesothelioma Always Fatal?

There are two types of mesothelioma tumors: malignant and benign. Sadly, malignant mesothelioma is always fatal. It is a terminal cancer with no known cure. While treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy can prolong a patient’s life, they are palliative, not curative. This means they are meant to keep a patient more comfortable and improve quality of life, not cure the disease. If a patient is diagnosed with benign mesothelioma, however, this is a noncancerous growth that is not fatal or life-threatening.

What Is the Average Survival Rate for Someone Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?

A survival rate is a percentage of patients who live a certain number of years after the date of cancer diagnosis. It is a projection that can give a patient an idea of how long he or she may live after being diagnosed with a terminal illness like mesothelioma. Relative survival rates are calculated by dividing the percentage of patients who are still alive at the end of a specific period of time by the percentage of people in the general population who are alive at the same time period. This calculation determines how much the disease shortens life. 

According to the latest research by the National Cancer Institute, these are the current survival rates for patients who are diagnosed with two main types of mesothelioma:

Pleural mesothelioma:

  • 1 year: 42.4 percent
  • 3 years: 15.5 percent
  • 5 years: 9.6 percent
  • 10 years: 5.4 percent

Peritoneal mesothelioma:

  • 1 year: 92 percent
  • 3 years: 74 percent
  • 5 years: 65 percent
  • 10 years: 39 percent

Some databases determine mesothelioma survival rates based on the metastasis of the cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, using this method, the 5-year survival rate for a patient with localized mesothelioma is 20 percent, regional is 16 percent and distant is 8 percent. These percentages only apply to the spread of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. Note that someone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma now may have a better survival rate than these numbers suggest, as the data was collected from patients who were diagnosed several years ago.

What Factors Can Affect Mesothelioma Survival Rate?

From the effectiveness of treatments and new treatment options to a patient’s genetics and unknown influences, numerous factors can change a patient’s survival rate. Some determining factors include:

  • The stage at diagnosis. Survival rates differ significantly based on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. In the early stages, before the cancer has metastasized throughout the body, a patient has a better prognosis and survival rate than in later stages.
  • Tumor location. Where the tumor is located can affect the survival rate by determining the treatment options available. With a difficult treatment location, a patient may be ineligible for surgery and may therefore have a reduced survival rate. 
  • The age and gender of the patient. Factors that are specific to the patient can also affect mesothelioma survival rates. Studies have found, for instance, that female patients have overall better survival rates than male patients. Studies also show that younger patients have a higher survival rate than older patients. 

The mesothelioma cell type, the patient’s overall health and lifestyle, and race can also play a role in the survival rate. This is why it’s important to consult with your doctor about your specific case rather than rely on estimates and averages. No two cases are exactly alike.

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