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%, according to a Translational Oncology report. Peritoneal mesothelioma has a median 1-year survival rate of 91.6%.

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What Is the Survival Rate of Mesothelioma?

Survival rates are part of an overall mesothelioma prognosis, or the expected outlook of a patient’s condition. It refers to the percentage of patients still living after a period of time. Since most mesothelioma patients are diagnosed as seniors, long-term survival is lower than other diseases that largely affect younger people.

8 out of 10 patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma will live at least 1 year following their diagnosis.

Pleural Mesothelioma

1-Year Survival Rate73.1%
3-Year Survival Rate22.9%

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

1-Year Survival Rate91.6%
3-Year Survival Rate65.3%

Pericardial Mesothelioma

1-Year Survival Rate26%
3-Year Survival Rate14%

Mesothelioma has a poorer survival rate than other types of cancer. However, many patients have achieved long-term survival with the help of top doctors and cutting-edge treatments.

“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. “

– Amy Fair, Registered Nurse and Mesothelioma Advocate

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Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Malignant mesothelioma survival rates are averages that doctors create by studying groups of patients. In reality, each mesothelioma patient’s overall survival time varies depending on unique factors of their case.

Mesothelioma survival rates depend on many variables, like:

  • The overall health of the cancer patient
  • The cell type found in the patient’s tumor(s)
  • The stage at which the cancer is diagnosed
  • Where the tumors are located in the body
  • What treatment options are available
  • Other demographic factors (age, sex, and race)

Keep reading below to learn about how each of these factors affect mesothelioma survival rates.

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Mesothelioma Tumor Location

Mesothelioma tumors can appear in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. This can greatly impact survival rates as doctors are able to treat mesothelioma that forms in some areas better than others.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Malignant pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs (pleura). Though it is the most common type of mesothelioma and accounts for around 80% of all cases, it has a poor long-term survival rate.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the overall 5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is 10% or lower.

Pleural mesothelioma is the only form of this cancer that can be broken down into stages. Early-stage (stages 1 and 2) pleural mesothelioma patients usually have longer survival times than later-stage (stages 3 and 4) patients as the cancer is still contained.

Learn about pleural mesothelioma survival rates by stage.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and is the second most common type of this cancer. Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have higher survival rates than those with other types due to advancements in treatments.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

1-Year Survival Rate91.6%
3-Year Survival Rate73.8%
5-Year Survival Rate65.3%
10-Year Survival Rate39.4%

“I asked her, ‘how long am I going to live, doctor?’ She told me, ‘I see five to ten years and we’ll hope for 10 to 15.’”

– Dennis, Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patient

Survival Rates for Other Mesothelioma Types

Most patients with pericardial mesothelioma (which develops in the lining of the heart) do not live longer than 6 months. A study from the medical journal Circulation found that the average 1-year survival rate for pericardial mesothelioma was 26%. The 5-year survival rate was just 9%.

Pericardial mesothelioma has a poor survival rate as it:

  • Is difficult to operate on
  • Is often diagnosed at a late stage
  • Responds poorly to chemotherapy and radiation

Testicular mesothelioma develops in the lining of the testes and has a much higher survival rate. A study from the journal Urology found that 49% of patients with testicular mesothelioma were still alive 5 years after diagnosis. In addition, 33% of patients were still alive after 10 years.

Call (877) 450-8973 to learn how you can improve survival time with mesothelioma treatments.

Mesothelioma Staging & Survival Rates

Mesothelioma staging plays an important role in patient survival. Doctors can break down most cases of mesothelioma into one of 4 stages depending on how far the cancer has spread.

Patients with stage 1 pleural mesothelioma have the highest survival rates, followed closely by those with stage 2.

Patients with early-stage mesothelioma often qualify for life-extending surgeries as their tumors are still small enough to remove.

Stage 3 and stage 4 pleural mesothelioma patients have a lower chance of long-term survival. Their cancer has started to spread to other locations like the lymph nodes, so they may not be able to safely undergo surgery.

By stage 4, most patients can only receive palliative (pain-relieving) treatments to reduce symptoms.

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%

Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of this cancer to have a formal staging system.

The other types of mesothelioma can’t be broken into stages as there isn’t as much information about them. However, doctors can still see if the cancer has spread or not regardless of the type.

Patients whose cancer has not spread typically have higher survival rates as more treatments will be available to them. Further, the patients will likely be healthy enough to undergo more aggressive treatments without complications.

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How Treatments Affect Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Mesothelioma treatments are the most effective way most people can achieve long-term survival. Through treatments, doctors can remove cancerous tumors and kill microscopic cells, allowing patients to live longer.

The most commonly used treatments to improve lifespan are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Mesothelioma Surgery and Survival Rates

Mesothelioma surgery is arguably the most effective way to improve patient survival. Survival rates for patients who undergo surgery for mesothelioma can be much higher compared to those who go untreated.

Notable mesothelioma surgeries include:

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)

An extrapleural pneumonectomy is used to treat pleural mesothelioma. Through this surgery, doctors remove the lung lining, the lung closest to the cancer, and all visible tumors. Patients must be in generally good health to undergo this treatment and be able adjust to life without a lung.

The European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery found that patients who received an EPP, along with radiation and chemotherapy, had a 1-year survival rate of 82% and a 5-year survival rate of 24%.

Graphic showing an extrapleural pneumonectomy. The lung, lung lining, mesothelioma tumors, heart lining, and part of the diaphragm all get removed as part of this surgery.Graphic showing an extrapleural pneumonectomy. The lung, lung lining, mesothelioma tumors, heart lining, and part of the diaphragm all get removed as part of this surgery.

Pleurectomy With Decortication (P/D)

A pleurectomy with decortication is also used to treat pleural mesothelioma, but it’s less intense than an EPP. Doctors still remove the pleura and cancer tumors, but both lungs are spared. This allows patients to recover faster from the surgery.

A report from the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery found that 14% of patients who underwent an EPP were still alive 5 years later.

Graphic showing a pleurectomy with decortication. The lung lining and cancer tumors are removed but the lung near the cancer is not. Graphic showing a pleurectomy with decortication. The lung lining and cancer tumors are removed but the lung near the cancer is not.

Cytoreduction With Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

Cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC is used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. Doctors first remove the peritoneum and all visible cancerous tumors via surgery. They then bathe the surgery site with heated chemotherapy to kill microscopic cancer cells that may have been left behind.

About 50% of patients who undergo cytoreduction with HIPEC live for at least 5 years following the procedure, according to a 2019 study.

Graphic showing cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. The first step is cytoreductive surgery to remove cancerous tumors from the abdomen. The second step is to bathe the surgery site with HIPEC (heated chemotherapy).Graphic showing cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. The first step is cytoreductive surgery to remove cancerous tumors from the abdomen. The second step is to bathe the surgery site with HIPEC (heated chemotherapy).

“For patients referred very early, I would say we are successful nearly 100% of the time. We can almost promise those patients [who undergo cytoreduction with HIPEC] that they will not have further peritoneal metastases.”

– Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, Peritoneal Mesothelioma Specialist (retired)

Survival Rates & Other Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma patients often live longer if they receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy before or after a major surgery. These treatments may also help patients live longer when surgery is not possible.

For example, the 1-year survival rate of pleural mesothelioma patients who only received chemotherapy was 58%, according to a study noted in the medical website OncLive.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

Veterans with mesothelioma have lower survival rates if they do not get treated.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

3-Year Survival Rate7.9%
5-Year Survival Rate5%

Even if a veteran cannot undergo surgery, they can still work with a doctor to see if other treatments like radiation and chemotherapy may help improve their lifespan.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates & Clinical Trials

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are not the only treatments that can help improve survival. Veterans and civilians alike can access new treatments that are not yet available to the general public by joining clinical trials.

Clinical trials allow doctors to test possibly more effective treatments and get them approved for mainstream use. For example, a mesothelioma treatment called immunotherapy was approved for wide-scale use after clinical trials showed it could help improve patient lifespans.

A 2020 report found that 68% of pleural mesothelioma patients treated with immunotherapy were still alive after 1 year. None of these patients were able to undergo life-extending surgery.

Our team can help you connect with a clinical trial that may help improve your survival time. Contact us today.

Survival Rates by Mesothelioma Cell Type

Survival rates can also be affected by the type of cancer cells a patient’s tumors are made of. The three main mesothelioma cell types are epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic.

A patient’s cell type impacts survival rate as some cells divide more quickly, causing the cancer to spread faster and making treatments less effective.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common cell type and has the best survival rate overall.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

2-Year Survival Rate65%
5-Year Survival Rate27%

Epithelial cells grow slower than the other mesothelioma cell types and respond better to treatment. This contributes to a higher survival rate among epithelioid mesothelioma patients.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the rarest of all three cell types and has the lowest survival rate.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

2-Year Survival Rate20%
5-Year Survival Rate0%

Sarcomatoid cells spread quickly so patients with this cell type often have limited treatment options. These factors greatly limit their survival time.

Biphasic Mesothelioma Survival Rate

Biphasic tumors are made up of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Survival times for patients with biphasic mesothelioma vary depending on the ratio of each cell type. If a biphasic tumor has more epithelioid cells than sarcomatoid cells, patients often live longer and have a better quality of life.

A study from the Journal of Thoracic Oncology reported a 3-year survival rate of 27% in patients with biphasic pleural mesothelioma. These patients were treated with surgery and radiation.

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Demographics & Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Age, sex, and other patient characteristics can greatly affect how long someone lives with mesothelioma. Researchers have broken down how demographics affect mesothelioma survival rates.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Gender

Women with mesothelioma have better survival rates than men, even when researchers account for factors like age and stage at diagnosis.

Did You Know

Women with pleural mesothelioma are roughly 3 times more likely than men to live for at least 5 years after diagnosis, according to a study from the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

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

Women are also more likely to develop peritoneal mesothelioma, which has a better survival rate than pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Age

Age at diagnosis has a very big effect on mesothelioma survival statistics. Younger patients have better survival rates than older patients. Those diagnosed at age 50 or younger have a 5-year survival rate that is over 6 times higher than patients diagnosed after age 65.

5-Year Survival Rate by Age

Younger than 5050.2%
Ages 50-6418.9%
Older than 658.4%
All ages12.9%

Older patients are also more likely to have other health issues when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma. These can limit their treatment options and survival time.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Race

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

Caucasian

1-Year Survival Rate42.7%
3-Year Survival Rate15%
5-Year Survival Rate8.7%

African-American

1-Year Survival Rate54.5%
3-Year Survival Rate20%
5-Year Survival Rate10.4%

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

Has Anyone Survived Mesothelioma?

Yes. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but some patients live years longer than the median survival times.

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 was determined to survive. He underwent aggressive treatments and is still alive as of 2021 — nearly 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 survive for much longer.
  • JulieDiagnosed in 2006

    Julie received her mesothelioma diagnosis in 2006, and 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.

Learn more about other mesothelioma survivors and how they beat the odds.

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

Improve Mesothelioma Survival Rates With VA Benefits

While some survival rates may seem low, veterans with mesothelioma have options to help them live longer. By getting prompt treatments and managing their overall health, long-term survival may be possible.

One of the best ways veterans can improve their survival time is to seek medical care from a mesothelioma doctor.

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has some of the best mesothelioma specialists in the country. Veterans can work with these doctors at little to no cost if they have VA Health Care.

An older couple looking at a chest X-ray with a female health care worker

Mesothelioma specialists can help veterans:

  • Develop a treatment plan
  • Recommend additional steps to take if needed
  • Understand survival rates

If you don’t have VA Health Care or other benefits, our team is here to help. File for mesothelioma VA benefits now so you can connect with VA doctors and live longer. You may also qualify for financial compensation from the VA and other sources.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates: Common Questions

How do doctors determine mesothelioma survival rates?

Doctors determine mesothelioma survival rates by tracking when someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma and how long they live. They then calculate the percentage of patients who live for a certain number of years after diagnosis to get the survival rate.

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). Survival rates measure the number of patients who survive for a certain amount of time after diagnosis.

Was I diagnosed properly?

Mesothelioma is rare, takes 20-50 years to develop, and has vague symptoms that mimic other illnesses. For these reasons, general doctors may have a hard time diagnosing it.

Consult your doctor if you are showing any symptoms of mesothelioma, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.

If you have already received a mesothelioma diagnosis, a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist may help confirm your disease stage or cell type. This ensures you can get the most effective treatments.

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.

View Sources

American Cancer Society. “Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-statistics.html. Accessed on August 29th, 2017.

Casiraghi, Monica. Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. “Induction chemotherapy, extrapleural pneumonectomy and adjuvant radiotherapy for malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” 2017. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/ejcts/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ejcts/ezx122/3805405/Induction-chemotherapy-extrapleural-pneumonectomy?redirectedFrom=fulltext. Accessed on August 29th, 2017.  

Le Roy, Florence. Annals of Surgical Oncology. “Conversion to Complete Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy for Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma After Bidirectional Chemotherapy.” Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1245/s10434-017-6033-x. Accessed on September 19th, 2017.  

Minatel, Emilio. Lung Cancer.“Radical pleurectomy/decortication followed by high dose of radiation therapy for malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Final results with long-term follow-up.” 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169500213004571. Accessed on September 19th, 2017.

National Cancer Institute. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. Retrieved from: https://seer.cancer.gov/faststats/selections.php?#Output. Accessed on August 29th, 2017.

Rea, Federico. Lung Cancer. “Induction chemotherapy, extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and adjuvant hemi-thoracic radiation in malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM): Feasibility and results.” 2007. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169500207001134. Accessed on September 19th, 2017.

Sugarbaker, David. “Extrapleural pneumonectomy in the multimodality therapy of malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Results in 120 consecutive patients.” Annals of Surgery. 1996. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1235368/. Accessed on August 29th, 2017.

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