What Is the Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

The mesothelioma survival rate is about 12 to 21 months with treatment. While most face an unfavorable prognosis for mesothelioma with less than a year of survival, a few defy the odds, living more than 10 years. The current 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma stands at 12%.

Factors affecting a malignant mesothelioma prognosis include the stage of the disease, the patient’s overall health and the type of mesothelioma treatments received.

A mesothelioma prognosis is what doctors describe as a patient’s outlook. It is individual and based on the average survival of other patients. Statistics play a role in prognosis, but every mesothelioma case is unique.

Doctors will likely talk to their patients about other factors that are related to their mesothelioma prognosis.

Cancer treatment is one factor that patients can control. Ongoing treatment can help keep cancer under control. Some patients live more than a decade after therapy.

What Factors Can Affect Your Mesothelioma Prognosis?

The most important factors of a mesothelioma prognosis are origin site, cell type and stage. General health and other personal factors also play a role.

Mesothelioma Tumor Location and Size

The location and size of a patient’s tumor impacts their malignant mesothelioma prognosis. Research shows about 40% of pleural mesothelioma patients survive at least one year. Roughly 9% of patients with pleural type survive more than five years.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients survive approximately six months without treatment or 13 months with chemotherapy alone. About half of peritoneal patients who receive surgery with heated chemotherapy live longer than five years.

Roughly half of pericardial patients survive six months. Rare cases of five-year survival involve surgery and chemotherapy. Average survival of testicular mesothelioma is around two years, but some patients may live more than a decade.

Mesothelioma Cell Type

The types of mesothelioma cells that make up the tumor can impact your prognosis. Identifying which cells are present is an essential part of diagnosing mesothelioma.

  • Epithelioid Cells: Patients with this cell type tend to live longer than those with other cell types. People with epithelioid tumors live an average of 200 days longer.
  • Sarcomatoid Cells: These cells are associated with the poorest prognosis because they are considered more aggressive and harder to treat. The average prognosis is six to eight months.
  • Biphasic Cells: The prognosis for this type depends on the ratio of sarcomatoid to epithelial cells. The more epithelial cells, the better the prognosis.

In a 2020 study from Oncology Reports, epithelial cell type correlated with a specific protein that is associated with prolonged survival.

Mesothelioma Stage and Metastasis

The cancer stage impacts prognosis because treatment becomes less effective in later stages.

  • Stage 1 patients who undergo surgery have a median life expectancy of 22.2 months.
  • Stage 4 mesothelioma patients who undergo treatment have a median life expectancy of 14.9 months.

In the final stage, mesothelioma metastasis involves local extensive tumor spreading. About 10% to 50% of stage 4 mesothelioma cases develop distant metastases, but tumors are more likely to spread near the origin.

Patient Health and Demographics

Younger people have a better prognosis with mesothelioma than older people.

  • Patients under 50: More than half of patients diagnosed in this span live at least a year.
  • Patients over 75: Less than a third of those diagnosed over this age live that long.

Gender has a significant impact on mesothelioma prognosis. Women with mesothelioma live longer than men. Race also plays a role in mesothelioma prognosis. In 2013, the five-year survival rate was 8.7% for white patients and 10% for Black patients.


Average mesothelioma prognosis with treatment
Early-stage patients who undergo treatment have a better mesothelioma prognosis

Treatments that may improve prognosis include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and Tumor Treating Fields.

Surgery allows some patients to live years beyond the average one-year survival. About 20% of pleural patients receive the early-stage diagnosis needed to qualify for surgery.

About half of mesothelioma patients who undergo chemotherapy have tumor shrinkage. Some people see no new tumors for extended periods. Adding targeted therapy or Tumor Treating Fields may improve survival from 12 to 18 months.

Couple using the Nutrition Guide from the Mesothelioma Center
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Top Ways to Improve Your Mesothelioma Prognosis

You can choose to be proactive and take steps to improve your prognosis. Although you can’t change your age or cancer stage, you can choose to seek treatment and make healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Seek out a clinical trial: Clinical trials can improve prognosis through experimental drugs. Some patients respond better to medicines still under investigation.
  • Make healthier lifestyle choices: Gentle exercise and a balanced diet can ease side effects and improve cancer symptoms.
  • Join a support group: Participating in support groups can help people cope by reducing anxiety, emotional distress, fatigue and pain.

Patients can also use relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation, which may help patients better cope with their diagnosis.

I would tell anyone who gets diagnosed with this disease, don’t just take the first advice you get and give up. Look around and see what is out there.
Gene Hartline
Diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2016

Survivors Who Surpassed Their Malignant Mesothelioma Prognosis

Although recurrence is common, people diagnosed with mesothelioma are overcoming their initial prognoses. Remission is having no signs or symptoms of active cancer. 

Partial remission is a 50% reduction in tumor size and full remission is complete tumor disappearance. Complete remission is rare with mesothelioma. Partial remission is more common. Patients can live for years in partial remission.

It’s important to keep hope alive. Some survivors live years or even a decade or more past their initial malignant mesothelioma prognosis.

Chris Gibney
Pleural mesothelioma survivor

Diagnosed in 2005, Chris Gibney far surpassed his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. In March 2017, he and his wife welcomed a group of exchange students from Germany to their home. Gibney credits his excellent medical team and a family support group for surviving more than a decade past his prognosis.

Beth Mixon
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor

At the time of Beth Mixon’s peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis in 2000, the majority of patients lived less than two years after treatment. Despite a grim prognosis, Mixon is still going strong 17 years after an aggressive cytoredutive surgery.

Kasie Coleman
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor

Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2010, Kasie Coleman underwent several cycles of chemotherapy and HIPEC treatments. Her cancer went into remission in 2012.

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Prognosis

What is the prognosis for malignant mesothelioma?

The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is poor. However, emerging treatments and mesothelioma awareness are improving a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis.

Is mesothelioma always terminal?

While mesothelioma is considered terminal, it is not always fatal. A small number of patients have outlived their prognosis by more than a decade and died of another cause.

How long can you live with mesothelioma?

Most people with mesothelioma live between four and 18 months, but some people have lived longer than 10 years with this type of cancer.

Is there a cure for mesothelioma?

It’s not possible to cure mesothelioma, but doctors use treatments to control tumor growth and cancer symptoms.

How can a mesothelioma specialist improve my prognosis?

Mesothelioma specialists have spent years learning about mesothelioma treatment, and they know how to treat this cancer better than general oncologists. Working with a specialist is the best way to improve your prognosis.