Life expectancy for mesothelioma patients depends on many factors, including the location and stage of mesothelioma and the patient’s overall health. Doctors determine a patient’s life expectancy as part of their overall prognosis, and know that patients can improve their life expectancy with personalized treatment plans.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Overview
Life expectancy ranges are generated by statistics based on patients treated for mesothelioma in recent years.
While your life expectancy is unique to your specific case, the following details provide a general overview:
- The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 to 21 months
- Pleural mesothelioma median life expectancy ranges from 8 to 51 months depending on the disease stage and other prognosis factors
- Peritoneal mesothelioma median life expectancy is 12 months—cytoreduction with HIPEC treatment often extends life expectancy by years
- Mesothelioma cell type (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, or biphasic) is also an important prognosis factor
- The patient’s age, gender, and overall health further affect life expectancy outcomes
- Life expectancy can be improved by working with a mesothelioma specialist, undergoing the best treatment for your case, and maintaining good general health
Life Expectancy vs. Survival Rate
The term “life expectancy” refers to the average period that a patient can expect to live after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. For example, if the reported median life expectancy is 12 months, half of the patients will live beyond 12 months and the other half will not.
“Survival rate” refers to the percentage of patients who survive for a specified time after diagnosis. In this situation, the 12-month mesothelioma survival rate is 50%. While the two indicators are related, it is important to understand the difference when discussing treatment options with your medical team and reviewing information about your diagnosis.
What Is the Mesothelioma Life Expectancy?
The average mesothelioma life expectancy rate is 12 to 21 months.
However, life expectancy is unique to each patient and depends on several factors, such as:
- Mesothelioma stage
- Mesothelioma location
- Mesothelioma cell type
- Overall patient health
- Whether patient is a smoker
- Course of treatment and how the patient responds
Since each of these factors affects life expectancy, only a qualified mesothelioma specialist can analyze your particular case to determine your prognosis.
Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
The life expectancy for pleural mesothelioma depends on which stage the cancer is discovered. Patients with stage 1 and 2 mesothelioma are often good candidates for aggressive treatment options that offer the greatest chance of extending their life.
Stage 3 and 4 patients may, in some cases, be candidates for curative treatments—depending on their overall health and other factors. But late-stage patients will typically undergo palliative therapies to improve their quality of life.
Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
In stage 1 of pleural mesothelioma, cancer is contained to one area and has not spread beyond the lung lining where it originated—giving doctors the best chance to remove the tumor through curative surgery.
Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy: 21 to 51 months
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Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy: 21 to 51 months
Stage 2 Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
In stage 2, the mesothelioma remains on one side of the body but has started metastasizing beyond the lung lining into lymph nodes, the diaphragm, or the lung. Aggressive treatment options are often still available.
Stage 2 Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy: 19 to 26 months
Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
In stage 3, mesothelioma has spread to the surrounding organs and lymph nodes. Treatment options become limited at this stage, and most remaining options are palliative in nature. Some patients in otherwise good health may still be eligible for curative procedures.
Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy: 15 to 16 months
Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
By stage 4, the mesothelioma has spread to the other side of the body. Most treatments at this stage aim to ease symptoms. Some stage-4 patients are eligible to participate in experimental clinical trials that may extend their life.
Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy: 8 to 12 months
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common location of the disease. The average life expectancy for peritoneal mesothelioma patients is 12 months.
Patients who are good candidates for the aggressive cytoreduction with HIPEC procedure may see their life expectancy extended by 5 years or longer. The longest survival on record is 19 years.
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms can be vague, and in many cases, the disease is not diagnosed early. If you have been exposed to asbestos, monitor your health for mesothelioma symptoms and contact a specialist at the first sign.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare form of the disease. Most cases aren’t discovered until autopsy. When patients are diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, the disease has typically already progressed to an advanced stage. Therefore, the life expectancy is shortest of all mesothelioma types, averaging six months.
Since pericardial mesothelioma is quite rare—accounting for 1–2% of all mesothelioma cases—aggressive surgery is often the best treatment option. A successful operation combined with chemotherapy and other treatments may extend the patient’s life expectancy by months or even years.
Life Expectancy by Cell Type
The type of mesothelioma cells also affects the patient’s life expectancy:
- Epithelioid: Spreads slowly and the easiest to treat, offering the best median life expectancy (12 to 24 months). Epithelioid are the most common type of mesothelioma cells.
- Sarcomatoid: Spreads aggressively and carries the shortest median life expectancy (6 months). Sarcomatoid is the rarest mesothelioma cell type.
- Biphasic: A tumor exhibiting a combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells (median life expectancy 12 months). The more epithelioid cells in the combination, the better the prognosis.
Cell type tells doctors how quickly mesothelioma is likely to spread. Based on cell type, doctors may perform more aggressive treatments when dealing with cells that are metastasizing (spreading) rapidly.
Improving Your Life Expectancy
Medical advancements and new research are providing patients the opportunity to extend their life expectancy after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. To improve life expectancy, the crucial first step is to contact a mesothelioma specialist. Each patient presents a unique case, and an expert medical team will determine the treatment plan that offers you the longest life expectancy.
A multimodal treatment plan—combining more than one type of treatment—is often the most effective course of action. Combinations may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Your doctors may also suggest other treatments like gene therapy or immunotherapy.
When all other options have been exhausted or ruled out, clinical trials may be available. In some cases, these experimental treatments extend the patient’s life expectancy.
It is also vital to maintain good overall health so that your body is fit to undergo treatment and fight the cancerous cells. Discuss a general health plan with your medical team for best results. Smokers should seriously consider quitting immediately.
Treating mesothelioma as early as possible offers patients the greatest chance of extending their life expectancy. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact a Mesothelioma Help Now Patient Advocate right away to begin working on a tailored treatment plan.