Mesothelioma Prognosis

Mesothelioma prognosis is the expected health outcome after a diagnosis. According to Penn Medicine, most patients live 18 months or less after diagnosis, and the average five-year survival rate is only 10%. However, there are steps you can take to improve it, and mesothelioma specialists and treatment centers that can help.

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What Is the Average Mesothelioma Prognosis?

Mesothelioma prognosis is a doctor’s best estimate of what will happen after confirming that someone has this cancer.

Mesothelioma prognosis is measured in two ways:

  • Life expectancy: How long a patient is projected to live for. Mesothelioma patients can live anywhere from 4-18 months on average.
  • Survival rate: The number of patients still living after a certain number of months or years. The overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is 10%, meaning only 1 in 10 patients are still living 5 years after diagnosis.

While these statistics can be scary, they are just averages and each person’s mesothelioma prognosis is unique. What type of mesothelioma a patient has, as well as their cancer stage, cell type, and more, all impact prognosis.

Further, you may be able to improve your mesothelioma prognosis by undergoing treatments and adopting a balanced lifestyle.

Learn more about treatments that can help your mesothelioma prognosis in our free mesothelioma guide.

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Mesothelioma Prognosis by Cancer Type

The prognosis of malignant mesothelioma varies by what type of this cancer you have. There are four main types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular.

Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis

Malignant pleural mesothelioma forms in the pleura, the lining of the lungs.

  • The average 5-year survival rate is 12.5%, according to a 2020 study.
  • The typical life expectancy is 18 months, as noted by the medical journal Frontiers in Oncology.

Without treatment, the average pleural mesothelioma survival rate is half a year.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects your peritoneum, the tissue layer that lines your abdomen and abdominal organs. Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have the best overall prognosis of all types.

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma patients can live for 53 months on average if they receive cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy, according to the journal Cancer Management and Research.
  • The overall 5-year survival rate is 47% if patients get the treatments mentioned above, as noted by Cancer Management and Research.

However, the life expectancy drops to six months to a year without treatment, as noted by the journal Translational Lung Cancer Research.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Prognosis

Pericardial mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer that affects the pericardium, the lining of the heart. It’s highly aggressive and very hard to treat. Because of this, these patients have the worst overall prognosis of any mesothelioma type.

  • Pericardial mesothelioma patients have an average lifespan of two to six months.
  • The medical journal Circulation found that patients have a 5-year survival rate of 9%.

Testicular Mesothelioma Prognosis

Testicular mesothelioma develops in the lining of the testes. It is less common than peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma, but doctors can often treat this cancer and help patients live longer.

  • The average life expectancy is 46.7 months, according to the medical journal Environmental Health.
  • The overall 5-year survival rate is 49%, as noted by the journal Urology.

However, patients with larger testicular mesothelioma tumors have lower life expectancies, according to the Urology report.

Mesothelioma Prognosis by Stage

Which stage a patient’s cancer is in can greatly impact the prognosis for mesothelioma.

Doctors can diagnose cases of pleural mesothelioma into one of four stages, based on how far the cancer has spread in the body.

StageLife ExpectancySurvival Rate
Stage 121 months16%
Stage 219 months13%
Stage 316 months11%
Stage 412 months4%

The other types of mesothelioma are classified into “localized” or “advanced” stages. Typically, patients diagnosed with advanced-stage mesothelioma have a worse prognosis as the cancer has spread to other body parts and is harder to treat.

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Cell Types & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Mesothelioma tumors can be made up of several different types of cells. Which cell type is present can greatly impact the prognosis of mesothelioma, as some cells spread faster and are harder to treat than others.

View mesothelioma prognosis by cell type below.

Mesothelioma Cell TypeDescriptionLife Expectancy5-Year Survival Rate
Epithelioid mesotheliomaMost common cell type. Cells stick together and are easier to treat.14 months27%
Sarcomatoid mesotheliomaLeast common cell type. Cells spread quickly and are hard to treat.4 monthsUnder 6%
Biphasic mesotheliomaTumors contain both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. More epithelioid cells leads to a better prognosis.10 months20%

What Factors Affect the Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

A few other factors besides the type of mesothelioma, cell type, and stage can affect prognosis.

These factors include:

  • Age: Younger patients are more likely to respond positively to mesothelioma treatments. As a result, they tend to have a better prognosis than older people.
  • Blood chemistry: Patients with high white blood cell and platelet counts and low hemoglobin are more likely to have a poor prognosis for mesothelioma.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to live longer and withstand mesothelioma treatments.

How to Improve Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

The best way to improve your mesothelioma prognosis is by undergoing cancer treatments. There are several mesothelioma treatments shown to be effective in improving prognosis.

Surgery and Mesothelioma Prognosis

If you are healthy enough, you may be able to improve your prognosis by undergoing surgery.

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is commonly used to surgically treat pleural mesothelioma. This surgery allows doctors to remove the lung nearest to the cancer tumors. Patients live for 36.5 months after this treatment on average. The 5-year survival rate for patients that get an EPP is 24%.
  • Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) can also be used to treat pleural mesothelioma. Here, doctors remove cancer tumors and the pleura but keep both lungs intact. The average life expectancy for these patients is 34 months and the 5-year survival rate is 29%.
  • Cytoreduction with HIPEC is used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma through a combination of abdominal surgery and heated chemotherapy. As mentioned earlier, patients that receive this treatment live for 53 months on average, with the 5-year survival rate being 47%.

Find out more about how surgeries can help improve your mesothelioma prognosis. Download our free mesothelioma guide now.

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Chemotherapy & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Doctors may use chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the cancer. They can also give chemotherapy after surgery to kill mesothelioma cells that were left behind.

Pleural mesothelioma patients treated with chemotherapy have an average life expectancy of 14.1 months and a 2-year survival rate of 27%, according to a 2020 report from OncLive.

Radiation Therapy & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Oncologists may use radiation therapy after surgery to kill small areas of mesothelioma that couldn’t be removed. They can also use this treatment to ease mesothelioma symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, and bleeding.

In a 2021 study from Communications Biology, epithelioid mesothelioma patients treated with radiation therapy and then surgery lived for roughly 36 months.

Immunotherapy & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Immunotherapy was approved to treat pleural mesothelioma in 2020 after it showed promising results in clinical trials.

A study from OncLive found that patients treated with immunotherapy lived for 18.1 months after diagnosis, and had a 2-year overall survival rate of 41%. These were pleural mesothelioma patients who couldn’t receive surgery.

A Balanced Lifestyle & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may also improve your general health and ability to recover from mesothelioma treatments. This, in turn, may improve your mesothelioma prognosis.

Here’s how you can live a balanced lifestyle with mesothelioma:

  • Eating properly: Eating nutritious food can boost the immune system and help your body heal after surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Not smoking: Smoking can make it more difficult to stay healthy during mesothelioma treatments like surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Regularly exercising: Mesothelioma patients should regularly perform light exercises like aerobics to reduce fatigue, boost appetite, and improve blood flow.

Call (888) 360-2406 to get help improving your prognosis of mesothelioma now.

Alternative Treatments & Mesothelioma Prognosis

Some mesothelioma patients turn to alternative treatments to help bolster the effects of other therapies they’re receiving or if normal medical treatments don’t work.

Commonly used alternative treatments include acupuncture, herbal medicine, mental health treatments, yoga, and more.

Always tell your medical team before starting mesothelioma alternative treatments. While alternative treatments may help improve your prognosis of mesothelioma in some cases, others can be dangerous without supervision from a doctor.

According to a 2016 study, acupuncture relieved anxiety and breathlessness in mesothelioma patients. Further, a different study showed that three Thai herbal extracts promoted the effects of chemotherapy by causing cancer cells to die.

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Hope for Mesothelioma Patients: Survivor Outlook

Some patients have surpassed their health care providers’ expectations despite a poor initial mesothelioma prognosis.

Here are some inspiring stories from mesothelioma survivors:

  • Julie was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2006 shortly after losing her father to asbestos-related lung cancer. Doctors only gave her 6-12 months to live, but after receiving aggressive treatments, she’s still living today nearly two decades later.
  • Mike received a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis following symptoms like shortness of breath. He underwent an EPP and bravely fought the disease for 9 years.
  • Ernie was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after having symptoms like pain in his shoulder and rib cage for eight years. He chose to get treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, living for 7 years after starting these treatments.

These survivors show that it’s possible to outlive a poor mesothelioma prognosis. Anything is possible. The key is to have a strong care team behind you to get the treatments you deserve.

Get Help for Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

Life after getting a prognosis of mesothelioma can be a scary and stressful time. However, it’s important to remember that a prognosis can change — with the right medical care, you may be able to live for years or even decades with this cancer.

The Mesothelioma Resource Group can help you and your family find top treatments to improve your mesothelioma prognosis. We have nursing support staff and patient advocates on hand to assist you. Download our free mesothelioma guide to learn more.

Mesothelioma Prognosis FAQs

What is the survival rate of mesothelioma?

The average 5-year mesothelioma survival rate is 10%, according to top cancer facilities like Penn Medicine and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The odds of beating mesothelioma depend on a range of factors, including the type of this cancer you have, the cell type, the stage, and more.

Generally speaking, the odds of outliving your mesothelioma prognosis increase if you’re diagnosed at an earlier stage and undergo aggressive treatments.

Mesothelioma is generally considered to be a fatal disease. However, treatment options like surgery and clinical trials can improve a patient’s mesothelioma prognosis and overall quality of life.

In some cases, mesothelioma patients can live for much longer than originally expected thanks to proper medical care.

Patients with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma have a median survival time of 12 months with treatment. Some patients may have more or less time to live depending on how their body responds to treatments.

For example, John was diagnosed with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma in 2019, but after undergoing chemotherapy, he’s still alive today.

Yes, mesothelioma patients may go into remission after treatment. Remission is when the cancer shrinks or disappears. However, long-term mesothelioma remission is rare and the cancer often comes back.

The good news is that it’s possible to still become a long-term mesothelioma survivor even if your cancer doesn’t go completely into remission.

Yes, you can outlive your mesothelioma prognosis. Thanks to early detection and advancements in mesothelioma treatment, some mesothelioma patients have successfully outlived their prognoses by years or even decades.

Experimental treatments like immunotherapy and clinical trials may also improve your prognosis. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your options.

Mesothelioma Symptoms was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

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