The stage of your cancer at diagnosis is a strong predictor of overall survival. Survival is best among people diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage, before cancer spread starts to limit treatment options.
Early-stage patients who receive prompt treatment experience improved survival because they are more likely to qualify for surgery and other aggressive treatments associated with better outcomes.
Pleural Mesothelioma Median Survival Rate by Stage
Normally, mesothelioma is not diagnosed until it reaches stage III or stage IV, the last stages of development. This can include a larger tumor or extensive cancer spread throughout the body. Later stages of mesothelioma are more difficult to treat effectively, so these patients have worse survival rates.
A late diagnosis is common because it can take 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to develop, and many people don't experience symptoms until the cancer has already reached an advanced stage.
While there is no established staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma, some researchers have proposed their own systems based on the TNM system, which uses tumor size, lymph node involvement and cancer spread to describe the extent of many types of cancer.
One such novel staging system has three stages based on TNM characteristics and a measure of tumor burden called the peritoneal cancer index (PCI). In a 2011 international study involving 294 peritoneal mesothelioma patients treated with cytoreductive surgery and heated chemotherapy, researchers used this system to describe patient survival.
One-year survival for stage I patients was 94 percent, 87 percent for stage II and 66 percent for stage III. The researchers also calculated five-year survival, which was 87 percent for stage I, 53 percent for stage II and 29 percent for stage III.
Beating the Odds: Andy A.
Andy survived a 70 mph motorcycle crash in 2004 and beat the odds again surviving for the past three years with stage IV mesothelioma. He credits his survival with the immunotherapy drug Amatuximab (MORab-009), which is currently being tested in clinical trials.