Approximately 55 percent of mesothelioma patients live longer than 6 months, while roughly 35 percent live longer than one year. Only 9 percent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma survive longer than 5 years.
What Is Survival Rate?
Median survival rate refers to the percentage of people who live a certain amount of time after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate is a standard statistic used for many types of cancer. However, because mesothelioma cancer is so deadly, many people also refer to 1-year survival rates, as well.
Survival rate should not be confused with life expectancy, which refers to the average length of time patients with mesothelioma live. Together, both of these statistics can provide information about an individual’s prognosis.
Survival rate also should not be confused with mesothelioma mortality rate. Mortality rate is a statistic used by health organizations and governmental agencies to understand the prevalence of a disease in a given area (such as a country, state or city).
Survival Rates for Mesothelioma
The latest data shows better survival rates than ever. Specifically, a 2015 meta-study looked at 20 years worth of results from 1992 – 2012, and during that period the two major forms of mesothelioma (pleural and peritoneal) have both seen an improvement in survivorship.
According to the study, survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients has shown significant improvement, largely due to new forms of treatment, such as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).
While the numbers above encompass all people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the survival rate can change significantly based on various factors. The two most substantial of these are age and gender:
- Age – Older patients have a lower 5-year survival rate than younger patients
- Gender –Women with mesothelioma have a higher 5-year survival rate than men
|AGE AT DIAGNOSIS||MALE||FEMALE|
|Ages 45 – 54||17.3%||27.5%|
|Ages 55 – 64||10.4%||17.6%|
|Ages 65 – 74||6.6%||13%|
Other factors that affect mesothelioma survival rates include:
- Location – pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, or pericardial mesothelioma
- Cell Type – epithelioid mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma, or biphasic mesothelioma
- Stage of Disease – early stage or later stage
- Genetics – such as BRCA1-associated protein-1 (BAP1)
- Lifestyle Factors – such as smoking
- Blood Counts – such as high levels of hemoglobin, platelets, or white blood cells
- Overall Health – such as being overweight or having a compromised immune system
Improving Mesothelioma Survival
It is important to remember that a survival rate is a percentage based on many cases – it is not meant to indicate how long any certain individual will live. In many cases, you may be able to improve your chances at long-term survival after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
For those with early stage mesothelioma (stage 1 or stage 2), undergoing aggressive treatment to remove tumors and organs containing cancer cells can lead to higher survival rates. Those who receive a later stage diagnosis (stage 3 or stage 4) may not have the same surgical options available – since the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes – but could still benefit from chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments, which can extend their survivorship.
|MESOTHELIOMA SURVIVAL RATE BY TREATMENT TYPE|
|Chemotherapy Only||2 years||19%|
|Pleurectomy / Decortication (P/D)||2 years||40%|
|Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)||2 years||37%|
|CRS-207 + Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)||5 years||50%|
For pleural mesothelioma, patients who undergo a pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) or extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) – both of which are usually part of a multimodal treatment plan – generally have a much higher rate of survival than those who receive chemotherapy alone.
For peritoneal mesothelioma, patients who undergo cytoreductive surgery (CRS) with HIPEC have significantly higher rates of survival. When combined with systemic chemotherapy as an adjuvant treatment, the 5-year survival rate of patients who undergo CRS + HIPEC can be as high as 67%.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors in the Country
Professor of Surgery; Chief, General Thoracic Surgery; Director, Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine Baylor College of Medicine
Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery; Co-Director, The Lung Center Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Numbers and statistics are one thing, but behind those numbers are real people. Some of those people have beat the odds and defied the dismal survival rates to become long-term mesothelioma survivors. Here are a few of those survivors’ stories.
Heather Von St. James – Diagnosed at the age of 36 with malignant pleural mesothelioma, Heather was given only 15 months to live. But determined to defy the statistics, she sought out a top mesothelioma doctor and underwent an aggressive surgery to rid her body of cancer. Now, as a 12-year survivor, Heather continues helping others who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis and advocating for a full ban on asbestos.
Mavis Nye – In June 2009, Mavis received a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis with a life expectancy of only three months. After trying to treat her cancer with standard chemotherapy drugs, Mavis took part in a clinical trial using the immunotherapy drug Keytruda. Now, Mavis is an 8-year survivor, even though the mesothelioma survival rate statistics gave her incredibly poor odds of surviving even one year.
Paul Cowley – Exposed to asbestos when he was very young, Paul was diagnosed in 2012 when he was only 34 with an extremely poor prognosis. With a wife and young son supporting him every step of the way, Paul underwent two aggressive surgeries in a six-month period to excise the tumors and surrounding organ tissue. Now, he has passed the 5-year survival mark that a relatively small number of mesothelioma patients ever reach.
Speak with a MESOTHELIOMA SURVIVOR
Coordinate a time to speak with Heather Von St. James.
Learn Firsthand About:
- Heather’s Amazing Story
- Dr. David Sugarbaker’s Successful Treatment Approach
- Life After Surviving a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
- Coping Strategies for Patients & Family Members
FAQs About Mesothelioma Survival Rates
Is mesothelioma fatal?
Mesothelioma is almost always fatal, and as the survival rate statistics above show, about 90% of people diagnosed with the disease pass away within five years.
Because of this terrible truth, it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from asbestos exposure, especially if you live in an older home or work at a job site where asbestos may be present. Also, it is incredibly important to get any symptoms of mesothelioma checked out right away, since diagnosis at an early stage is the best way to improve your chances at survival.
How long can you live with mesothelioma?
Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma live between 6 and 24 months. A small number of individuals (less than 10%) will live 5 years or longer.
However, it is important to note that every individual will have a different mesothelioma prognosis depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Tumor location (pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial)
- Stage of cancer (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, or stage 4)
- Mesothelioma cell type (epithelioid cells, sarcomatoid cells, or biphasic cells)
- Patient’s age and sex
- Lifestyle factors
- Overall health
Your mesothelioma specialist will be able to give you specific information about your case.
How much should I trust survival rate statistics?
Mesothelioma survival rates are determined by a standard measure known as the relative 5-year survival rate, which indicates how many patients are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed with the disease.
According to the most reliable studies, the relative 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is about 9 percent, which is better than it was a decade or more ago. However, this simplified number does not tell the whole story. As shown above, survival rate can depend heavily on the type of mesothelioma a person has, what treatment options are available to them, and certain other health and lifestyle factors.
Many different clinical trials and other studies are being conducted by the National Cancer Institute on an ongoing basis to identify the factors that affect survival rate and, hopefully, discover ways to increase survival among mesothelioma patients. The results of these studies can be helpful for patients who meet certain criteria, but they may not be useful for determining an overall survival rate across the broad spectrum of mesothelioma patients.
Therefore, while survival rate can be a useful statistic in some cases, it can be misleading in others. Cancer patients and loved ones should always rely on the advice and guidance provided by their doctors to understand how they can improve their prognosis and life expectancy, rather than looking to a single statistic.