Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma generally live less than 2 years, but customized treatment plans may extend their survival. Seeing experienced mesothelioma doctors located at specialized cancer centers and VA hospitals are the best way for patients to improve their life expectancy.
What Is the Life Expectancy for Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma life expectancy is the expected length of time a patient will survive following their cancer diagnosis.
The average life expectancy for patients with early-stage pleural mesothelioma (stages 1 and 2) is around 38 months. Patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma (stages 3 and 4) have an average life expectancy of 12 months.
Average Life Expectancy for Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma has an average life expectancy of about 31 months.
A mesothelioma patient’s life expectancy is directly related to their overall prognosis, the expected progression of their disease.
Factors that influence this include:
- Type of mesothelioma
- Cell type
- Mesothelioma stage
- Patient’s overall health
These important factors also influence a patient’s life expectancy. Although the average life expectancy for mesothelioma is 2 years, it is not definite. Some mesothelioma patients pass way sooner, while others live much longer.
How Treatment Affects Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Specialists and researchers widely regard surgery as the best way to extend survival in mesothelioma cases.
Mesothelioma surgery, which involves removing visible tumors, can extend mesothelioma life expectancy by months or even years — especially when combined with other treatments.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment
The life expectancy for mesothelioma patients who go without treatment is much shorter than those who chose to get treatment, about 2-12 months on average.
Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is usually diagnosed after it has started to spread. Due to its location near the lungs and heart, treatment options for pleural mesothelioma are aggressive and may prove too dangerous for older patients.
These two factors contribute to the cancer’s generally short life expectancy. However, pleural mesothelioma patients diagnosed early typically have a better prognosis than those whose cancer is discovered late.
Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy by Stage
Pleural mesothelioma has 4 stages, with patient life expectancy decreasing as the stages progress.
Patients diagnosed at stages 1 or 2 have the longest life expectancies because their cancer is still concentrated on one side of the body. This qualifies many of these patients to undergo invasive but curative treatments like surgery.
Once the cancer has reached stages 3 or 4, it has begun to spread to more distant areas of the body. Patients diagnosed at these later stages do not usually qualify for surgery, giving them worse life expectancies than those with early-stage mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy After Surgery
One of the most common surgical options for pleural mesothelioma is an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
- Patients who receive an EPP plus radiation therapy have a median life expectancy of 25.5 months.
- Patients who undergo an EPP with heated chemotherapy have a median life expectancy of 39 months.
Another type of surgery for pleural mesothelioma is called pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).
- Patients who undergo P/D plus heated intraoperative chemotherapy have a median life expectancy of around 35 months. Patients with an epithelioid cell type have a median survival of 49 months, while patients with a biphasic or sarcomatoid cell type have a survival time of 21 months.
- Patients who have P/D surgery plus photodynamic therapy have a median life expectancy of 31.7 months. For patients whose cancer has not yet spread to their lymph nodes, median survival is 57 months.