Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Quick Summary

The average 1-year survival rate for mesothelioma is roughly 80%, but this percentage is slowly improving. Pleural mesothelioma has a median 1-year survival rate of 73.1%. Peritoneal mesothelioma has a median 1-year survival rate of 91.6%. Learn how to improve your mesothelioma survival rate below.

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What Is the Survival Rate of Mesothelioma?

Survival rates are given as part of a mesothelioma prognosis (expected health outlook). It refers to the number of patients still living after a period of time.

All types of mesothelioma generally have poor long-term survival rates. However, many patients have lived for years or decades with the help of top doctors and treatments.

Survival Rate by Mesothelioma Type

Year(s)PleuralPeritonealPericardial
1-Year73.1%91.6%22%
3-Year22.9%65.3%14%

Sources: Translational Oncology, Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, & Circulation

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Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Survival Rates

It’s important to know that malignant mesothelioma survival rates are averages. How long you’ll live depends on your overall health and age, how far the cancer has spread, and many other factors.

Learn how different factors affect mesothelioma survival rate below.

Mesothelioma Tumor Location

Mesothelioma can appear in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. Doctors are able to treat mesothelioma that forms in some areas better than others.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Malignant pleural mesothelioma forms in the lung linings (pleura) and is the most common type of this cancer.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes the overall 5-year pleural mesothelioma survival rate is 10%. That said, the survival rate may be higher or lower depending on the cancer’s stage.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma and develops in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum). Peritoneal mesothelioma is the easiest type to treat, so these patients have the best overall survival rates.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Year(s)Survival Rate
1-Year91.6%
3-Year73.8%
5-Year65.3%
10-Year39.4%

Source: Translational Oncology

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Survival Rates for Other Mesothelioma Types

Mesothelioma can also develop in the heart lining (pericardial mesothelioma) or testicle lining (testicular mesothelioma).

Most patients with pericardial mesothelioma have a poor health outlook. The average 1-year pericardial mesothelioma survival rate is 22%. The 5-year survival rate was just 9%.

Testicular mesothelioma has a much higher survival rate. The journal Urology found that 49% of patients with this cancer were still alive after 5 years, and 33% of patients were still alive after 10 years.

Cancer Staging & Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Pleural mesothelioma is the only form of this cancer that is classified into four stages.

Early-stage (stages 1 and 2) pleural mesothelioma patients usually have higher survival rates than late-stage (stages 3 and 4) patients. The cancer hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body in the early stages, making it easier to treat.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Stage

Stage2-Year
Survival Rate
5-Year
Survival Rate
Stage 145%16%
Stage 241%13%
Stage 337%11%
Stage 426%4%

Source: the IASLC Mesothelioma Staging Project (2016)

The other types of mesothelioma do not have staging systems as there isn’t as much information about them. However, patients whose cancer has not spread typically have higher survival rates as more treatments will be available to them.

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Survival Rates by Mesothelioma Cell Type

Mesothelioma tumors can be made up of different types of cells. This affects mesothelioma survival rate as some cells respond better to treatments than others.

The three main mesothelioma cell types are epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic.

Epithelioid mesothelioma has the best survival rate of all cell types. Epithelial mesothelioma cells grow slowly and respond better to treatment.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Year(s)Survival Rate
2-Year 65%
5-Year 27%

Source: Texas Oncology

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the rarest of all three cell types and has the lowest survival rate. These cells spread quickly, so patients often have less treatment options.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Year(s)Survival Rate
2-Year 20%
5-Year 0%

Source: Texas Oncology

In cases of biphasic mesothelioma, tumors are made up of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. If there are more epithelioid cells than sarcomatoid cells in the tumors, patients often live longer.

The Journal of Thoracic Oncology found that the 3-year survival rate of patients with biphasic pleural mesothelioma was 27%.

Demographics & Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Age, gender, and other demographics can greatly affect mesothelioma survival rate.

Gender

Women with mesothelioma have better mesothelioma survival rates than men. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery found that male pleural mesothelioma patients had a 5-year survival rate of 4.5%. The survival rate among female patients was 13.4% — nearly 3 times as long.

Higher estrogen levels and lower rates of asbestos exposure may be why women have better survival rates.

Age

Mesothelioma survival rates are higher in younger patients than lower patients. Older patients are also less likely to qualify for life-extending treatment options as these would affect their quality of life.

5-Year Survival Rate by Age

Age GroupSurvival Rate
50 and Younger42.1%
50-6416%
65 and Older7.7%
All Ages11.5%

Source: National Cancer Institute SEER program

Race

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that white Americans had lower survival rates than Black Americans.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Race

RaceSurvival Rate
Asian/Pacific Islander9%
Black14%
Hispanic11.3%
White11%

Source: National Cancer Institute SEER program

White Americans worked in industries that relied on asbestos-based products far more often than other races. However, specialists are still studying the link between mesothelioma survival rates and race.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates and Treatment

Treatment is the most effective way to improve mesothelioma survival rate. Treatments allow doctors to remove and/or destroy cancer tumors so patients can achieve longer life expectancies.

An older couple sits with a female doctor. Together they look at a chest X-ray.

Notable mesothelioma treatments include: 

  • Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery is used to treat pleural mesothelioma cases. All visible cancer tumors, the lung closest to the cancer, and the lung lining are removed. A recent study found that patients who received an EPP and other treatments had a 1-year survival rate of 82% and a 5-year survival rate of 24%.
  • Pleurectomy With Decortication (P/D): This is a less-intense surgery for pleural mesothelioma. Doctors remove the lung lining and cancer tumors, but both lungs are spared. A 2019 study found that 44% of patients who underwent a P/D were still alive 5 years later.
  • Cytoreductive Surgery With HIPECThis is used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. Doctors first remove the abdomen lining and cancer tumors nearby. They then bathe the surgery site with heated chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Roughly half of patients live for at least 5 years following this treatment, according to a 2019 study.
  • Chemotherapy and Radiation: Cancer patients often live longer if they receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy before or after a major surgery, as well as patients who don’t qualify for surgery. 58% of pleural mesothelioma patients who received just chemotherapy were still alive after 1 year, according to a study featured on the medical site OncLive.
  • Clinical Trials: Clinical trials test new treatments to hopefully find a cure or improve mesothelioma survival rates. A 2020 trial found that 68% of pleural mesothelioma patients ineligible for surgery treated with immunotherapy were still alive after 1 year.

Get treatment to help improve your mesothelioma survival rate from a cancer doctor near you.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

Patients with mesothelioma have lower survival rates if they do not get treated. For this reason, patients are highly encouraged to get treatment so they can live longer.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

Year(s)Survival Rate
3-Year 7.9%
5-Year5%

Has Anyone Survived Mesothelioma?

Yes. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, some patients have lived for years or even decades with this cancer and are known as mesothelioma survivors.

Notable mesothelioma survivors include:

  • PaulDiagnosed in 1997

    Paul was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997 at the age of 52. He was given under a year to live. However, Paul is still alive as of 2022 — 25 years after he was initially diagnosed.
  • RichardDiagnosed in 2017

    Richard served in the Air Force during the early 1950s when asbestos-based products were used to build airplanes. He was given a week to live after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis in 2017. Thankfully, Richard was able to live for much longer.
  • JulieDiagnosed in 2006

    When Julie received her mesothelioma diagnosis in 2006, her doctors gave her only 6-12 months to live. Thanks to aggressive treatments, Julie is still alive today and serves as an advocate for all with mesothelioma.
  • DennisDiagnosed in 2014

    Dennis was exposed to asbestos while working as a mechanic alongside his father. After being diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, Dennis was able to achieve long-term survival with help from top doctors.
Amy Fair
Amy FairRegistered Nurse
20+ years helping mesothelioma victims

“I just try to tell [patients] to stay in the here and now and go one day at a time. I don’t think any of us really know, except for the higher being — whatever that would be that you believe in — what [each patient’s] life expectancy is going to be.”

Call (877) 450-8973 to see how you can improve your mesothelioma survival rate.

How to Improve Mesothelioma Survival Rates

You may be able to improve your mesothelioma survival rate by getting medical care from top doctors. Specialists know how to create the most effective cancer treatment plan so you can potentially live longer.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has some of the best mesothelioma specialists in the country. Veterans with mesothelioma can work with these doctors at little to no cost if they have VA Health Care. Veterans and civilians can also get care from private specialists.

Our on-staff nurses can help you find top doctors and treatments to improve your mesothelioma survival rate. Call (877) 450-8973 or chat with us now to get started.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates: Common Questions

Is mesothelioma always fatal?

No. Some people can live for years or even decades with mesothelioma despite the cancer’s low survival rates. Chat with our team to learn how you can live longer with mesothelioma.

How do doctors determine mesothelioma survival rates?

Doctors look at groups of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and track how long they live for. They then compile the number of patients still alive after a certain amount of time into a survival rate.

For example, if 55 out of 100 patients are still alive after 5 years, then the 5-year survival rate is 55%.

If you have more questions, ask your doctor about how cancer survival rates are determined.

Is a survival rate different from life expectancy?

Yes. Mesothelioma life expectancy measures the amount of time patients can expect to live (usually in months or years). Mesothelioma cancer survival rates measure the number of patients who survive for a certain amount of time after diagnosis.

How can I improve my mesothelioma survival rate?

You can improve your mesothelioma survival rate by working with cancer specialists. These doctors can use treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to kill cancer cells and help you live longer.

Our on-staff nurses can help you find doctors to improve your survival rate. Call (877) 450-8973 now.

Veterans Support Team
Todd Gersten, MD PhotoReviewed by:Todd Gersten, MD

Double Board-Certified Oncologist and Hematologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Todd Gersten, MD is a double board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist specializing in general adult oncology and hematologic disease. He is a physician partner with the Florida Cancer Specialists and practices in Wellington, Florida.

Dr. Todd Gersten is an independently paid medical reviewer.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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