What Is the Mesothelioma Survival Rate?

The average 5-year survival rate stands at 12% for pleural mesothelioma. However, it’s important to note that some patients have surpassed the 10-year mark.

Peritoneal mesothelioma has a higher survival rate of 65% over a 5-year period. This demonstrates how some people can live many years with this rare and aggressive cancer.

A chart that shows the five year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma being 65% and the pleural mesothelioma survival rate being 12%.
Peritoneal mesothelioma has a significantly higher survival rate than pleural mesothelioma.
A chart that shows the five year survival rate for peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma has a significantly higher survival rate than pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma survival rates also vary depending on the cancer stage, individual patient health and treatments selected. The most successful mesothelioma treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.

The National Cancer Institute publishes survival data on mesothelioma every few years. It’s the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, also known as SEER.

What Is a 5-Year Relative Survival Rate?

Relative survival is how long people with a certain condition live compared to others in the general population who don’t have the condition. A 5-year survival rate represents the percentage of people who are alive 5 years after diagnosis with cancer. 

The rate is used because it provides a standardized benchmark for assessing how long people live with cancer. It helps to measure how well cancer treatments work and disease progression.

For people with mesothelioma, survival rates offer insight into their likelihood of long-term survival and aids in decision-making regarding treatment. The data helps guide patients and health care providers in understanding the potential outcomes of treatment. 

Summary
The average 5-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is 65%, testicular mesothelioma is 49%, pleural mesothelioma is 12% and pericardial mesothelioma is 9%. The 5-year survival rate is 13.5% for all types of mesothelioma combined, according to the most recent SEER data.

How Are Mesothelioma Survival Rates Used?

Doctors use mesothelioma survival rate data when evaluating a patient’s prognosis. This data averages patient survival time based on thousands of cases. It can’t predict your individual outcome, but it can help people understand what happened to other patients with a similar diagnosis. 

There have been people who survived way beyond what the statistics say. I plan on being one of those. I have a lot of people counting on me being around. I’m not going to disappoint them.

Survival rate data is one piece of the puzzle when a doctor determines the best mesothelioma treatment for you. For example, statistics show better survival rates among people diagnosed at a younger age. This translates into more aggressive mesothelioma treatment options for younger patients.   

Individuals and Survival Rate Data

Depending on the course of mesothelioma treatment you choose and your circumstances, you may live longer than survival rates suggest. The 5-year survival rates don’t take into consideration the most recent advances in medicine.

Statistics may be a source of comfort for some people and confusing or frightening for others. But survival rates only consider people diagnosed in the past. Those diagnosed today may have more available treatment options and a better chance of survival.

“We had been living a ‘live the year’ type of thing. But after recovery … now it’s not only that we have a bucket list, now we have a ‘we’re going to do this’ list,” mesothelioma survivor Brunilda Villareal told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “Tomorrow is very important – it’s sacred.”

You may wish to focus on your treatment plan and let your doctor provide more personalized information. Advances in treatment options help some patients live beyond average survival rates.

Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Factors affecting a person’s mesothelioma cancer survival rate include their general health, tumor location and cell type. These affect how long a person will live after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Women and younger patients tend to live longer. Patients with peritoneal tumors, early-stage disease, epithelioid cells and a history of multimodal therapy also tend to live longer.

Tumor Location

Peritoneal mesothelioma survival rates are significantly better than rates for pleural disease. About 65% of all peritoneal mesothelioma patients survive for 5 years or more. Five times more peritoneal patients achieve 5-year survival than pleural patients. Eligible patients with asbestos-related cancer in the peritoneum live between 40 months and 92 months with HIPEC surgery.

Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates
Year(s) Pleural Peritoneal
1 year 73.1% 91.6%
3 years 22.9% 73.8%
5 years 12% 65.3%
10 years 4.7% 39.4%

These stats are the most recently available. They come from a 2015 study published in Translational Oncology that analyzed 20 years of data.

Gender

Women with mesothelioma appear to survive longer than men regardless of age, cancer stage, race or type of treatment. The 5-year relative survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is 23.2% for women compared to 9% for men.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Gender
Gender 1 Year 3 Years 5 Years
Females 59.3% 34.5% 23.2%
Males 49.6% 22.1% 9%
Source: SEER Program, 2015-2019, the most recently available data

There are several possible reasons why women survive longer than men that researchers are exploring. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma has better survival than pleural tumors. This skews survival rates to favor women living longer on average.

Age

Younger people diagnosed with mesothelioma have higher survival rates compared with people diagnosed at an older age. About 83% of the patients diagnosed before age 50 live for 1 year. About 50% of patients diagnosed at 65 years old or older live the same amount of time.

One-Year Mesothelioma Survival by Age
Age Range 1-Year Survival Rate
< 50 83%
50 – 64 53.2%
65+ 49.6%
Source: SEER Program, 2019, the most recently available data

Younger patients tend to be healthier than older patients. That means they’re eligible for more aggressive and effective therapies. Those who are younger are also less likely to be diagnosed with coexisting chronic conditions such as pulmonary disease, diabetes or a history of other cancers.

Survivor Story
Survivor Story
Kevin Sinyard Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor Surpasses Average Survival

Change the body copy to: Pleural mesothelioma survivor Kevin Sinyard far surpassed the average mesothelioma survival rate. He was initially told he only had 6 months to live before undergoing extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery. He then underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regimens. Kevin told us, “I’m proof that you can survive and still live a really good life.”

Read Kevin’s Story

Stage of the Disease

The stage of mesothelioma at your diagnosis is a strong predictor of your overall survival. The SEER Program groups cancer survival rates into localized, regional and distant stages. This grouping distills the 4 pleural mesothelioma stages into 3, with localized representing stage 1, regional roughly representing stages 2 and 3, and distant representing stage 4.

5-Year Relative Survival Rates by Stage for Mesothelioma Patients
SEER Stage Pleural Mesothelioma 5-Year Relative Survival Rate Peritoneal Mesothelioma 5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Localized 22.5% 87%
Regional 15.6% 53%
Distant 9.3% 29%
Source: SEER Program, 2013-2019, the most recently available data

Early-stage patients who receive prompt treatment experience improved survival. They’re more likely to qualify for surgery and other aggressive treatment options. More aggressive therapies are associated with better outcomes.

Mesothelioma Cell Type

The types of cells that make up tumors impacts patient survival. Mesothelioma has three cell types: Epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic.

Average survival for epithelioid patients is 18 months. Patients with a sarcomatoid mesothelioma diagnosis have a survival range of approximately 6 to 8 months. Those with biphasic cells live an average of 13 months, but it can range depending on the ratio of cells present.

Mesothelioma 5-Year Survival Rate by Cell Type
Predominant Cell Type Median Survival in Months
Epithelial 18 months
Sarcomatoid 5.4 months
Biphasic 16.2 months

Biphasic tumors have epithelioid and sarcomatoid features. More epithelial cells mean a better prognosis for mesothelioma patients. If the cancer is primarily sarcomatoid cells, mesothelioma life expectancy decreases. 

Overall Health and Genetics

Mesothelioma patients with a history of smoking, heavy alcohol use or poor diet tend to have lower survival rates. Coexisting conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, can affect your survival as well.

Good nutrition and exercise habits can positively impact your survival. A healthy diet and regular exercise help patients respond better to cancer treatment.

Your genes and family history also play a role. More than 90% of mesothelioma cases occur in white men, but Black patients have a nearly 7% better 5-year survival rate.

How to Improve Mesothelioma Survival

Many long-term mesothelioma survivors attribute their survival to multidisciplinary care or clinical trials. Others say lifestyle changes, such as nutritional improvements, helped them after diagnosis.

A recent study of pleural patients who received surgery, chemotherapy and radiation lived around 21.7 months. Those who decided against treatment reported an overall survival of 10.2 months. Patients with better nutritional status lived an average of 18 months compared to 11 months among those with poor nutritional status, according to another study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

Avoid measuring your quality of life with mesothelioma survival statistics alone. A 5-year survival rate doesn’t describe how mesothelioma cancer symptoms may impact your quality of life.

“What frustrates me the most, and I hear this almost every time I have a new patient … ‘I just saw my doctor today and they said I have a year to 16 months to live.’ That is just not the case,” says registered nurse and Patient Advocate Karen Selby. “You’re an individual. This is your story.”

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Survival Rates

What is the survival rate of mesothelioma?

The 5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is approximately 12%. The 5-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is 65%.

Is mesothelioma always fatal?

Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal disease, however, some patients have survived more than 10 years after their diagnosis. While there is no cure for this cancer, there have been advances in care. Most mesothelioma patients only survive approximately 12 months after diagnosis, but treatment may extend mesothelioma survival.

What is the difference between a mesothelioma survival rate and mortality rate?

Survival rate is the percentage of cancer patients who live a number of years after diagnosis. For example, 25.6% of mesothelioma patients live for 3 years or more. The mesothelioma mortality rate is the number of deaths within specific geographical locations and groups of people. For example, as of 2020, there were 0.8 deaths from mesothelioma per 100,000 people in the United States.

How does the survival rate of mesothelioma compare to the lung cancer survival rate?

The 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is approximately 12%. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients is about 26.6%.

How do other health conditions affect mesothelioma survival rates?

People who have underlying health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk of complications with mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. These conditions may exclude some patients from surgery, which is the most effective treatment to extend survival.

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