A mesothelioma prognosis reflects how certain factors may impact your life expectancy and affect your chances of recovery. The average life expectancy for a person diagnosed with mesothelioma ranges from 12 to 21 months depending how advanced the disease is. Factors that affect prognosis include the cell type, stage, and location of the disease.
More and more patients are living even longer because of better treatments and advances in research. The best way patients can take control of their prognosis is by seeking out an experienced mesothelioma specialist. Get in touch a member of our Patient Help Team to get connected with a mesothelioma expert.
Treatments That Can Improve Your Prognosis
Multimodal therapy. This type of therapy combines several types of treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Using more than one type of treatment typically kills more mesothelioma cells than one treatment alone.
Surgery. Although not all patients are eligible, surgery offers the best chances of removing mesothelioma from the body. A study released in 2015 showed that patients who had pleurectomy with intraoperative radiation had a median survival time of 2 years and 4 months.
Clinical trials. Recruiting clinical trials offer unique, experimental treatments when other options have been exhausted. Patients who have exhausted all of their treatment options can turn to clinical trials for more options.
Mesothelioma survivors have outlived their prognoses by exploring all their treatment options. Multimodal treatments and clinical trials often offer the best chances for patients to beat their prognosis.
"When hope is in the equation, anything is possible." - Dr. David Sugarbaker, Leading Mesothelioma Surgeon and Specialist
Factors Affecting Your Prognosis
Certain factors determine your prognosis — some of these you can control directly, while others require treatment from mesothelioma specialist.
Factors that aren’t under your control:
- Cancer stage (stage one, two, three, or four)
- Location of the mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial)
- Cell type of the mesothelioma (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, biphasic)
Factors that under your control:
- Seeing a mesothelioma specialist
- Getting a second opinion
- Participating in clinical trials
- Living a healthy lifestyle—eating healthy and exercising
Improving Your Prognosis
The prognosis for mesothelioma is shorter than many other types of cancer, but every patient can take concrete actions to help them live longer. Improving your prognosis begins with accepting what you can't change and knowing what you can change.
- Get treatment from an experienced doctor. Mesothelioma is a very rare disease, and few oncologists are truly experienced treating the disease. Specialists experienced in treating patients with mesothelioma is a must if you wish to improve your prognosis. Seeking help from a mesothelioma specialist is the most important step you can take to improve your prognosis.
- Seek a second opinion. Patients who take control of their diagnosis get the best treatment, and this is often accomplished by getting a second opinion. Not all doctors will perform the same procedures or offer the same treatments. Patients who get a second opinion may learn that a different doctor is more capable of treating them. Good doctors encourage their patients to seek second opinions.
- Participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials play an essential role in the development of new treatments, some of which may lead to a cure in the future. Every traditional mesothelioma treatment started as a clinical trial. Participating in a clinical trial gives you to access new treatments and expands your options. Some survivors have a clinical trial to thank for their lives.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. You can help improve your prognosis by eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. The stronger your body is, the better it is equipped to fight the disease. A healthy immune system can also help you recover from side effects caused by major treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy, and improve your overall quality of life.
About Survival Rates
Survival rates are part of your prognosis, but it's important to remember that they are just numbers. Doctors use survival rate statistics to help determine the prognosis of their patients depending on the factors of their condition.
No matter the survival rates associated with your diagnosis, there are exceptions to the rule — mesothelioma survivors have proven that it's possible to outlive a prognosis.
You may see mesothelioma survival rates as a 5-year percentage, or for a specific amount of years and months. Five year rates show the percentage of patients who survived 5 years after they were diagnosed, and specific years or months reflect how long a patient survived after they were diagnosed or received treatment.
According to the most recent statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the current 5-year survival rates for mesothelioma are:
- 44.2 percent for patients 45 years old or younger.
- 15.6 percent for patients between the ages 45 – 54.
- 15.9 percent for patients less than 65.
- 5.1 percent for patients over 65.
Your doctor may also relate your survival rate to the cancer stage and location of the mesothelioma. For example, stage 2 mesothelioma patients have a better prognosis than stage 4 patients, and patients with mesothelioma originating in the abdomen have a better prognosis than patients with pleural mesothelioma.
Survival rate statistics also are also specific to the cell type and location of mesothelioma. Depending on how far the cancer spreads, doctors may have limited options when removing it with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Early–stage mesothelioma hasn’t spread as far as advanced–stage mesothelioma, and is easier to remove. If you have a history of asbestos exposure—the only known cause of mesothelioma — getting diagnosed as soon as possible may allow you more treatment options, and give you a better chance to improve your prognosis.
Understanding Your Prognosis
Your survival rate is based on statistics researchers gather from the experiences of patients in the past — it’s not an exact prediction of your future. Doctors use such statistics to help explain how your diagnosis may affect your health, quality of life, and treatment options. To start improving your prognosis, seek treatment from a doctor who has experience with mesothelioma patients. He or she will confirm your diagnosis, and create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Our Patient Help Team can have a conversation with you about your diagnosis, and can help connect you to experienced doctors—for free. Speak with a member of our team and get started on improving your prognosis.
- American Cancer Society. Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma. Accessed on 2/16/16. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignantmesothelioma/detailedguide/malignant-mesothelioma-survival-statistics
- National Cancer Institute. Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment. Accessed on 2/16/16. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.gov/types/mesothelioma/patient/mesothelioma-treatment-pdq
- Baratti, Dario, et al. "Diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: Long-term survival with complete cytoreductive surgery followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)." European Journal of Cancer. Published online: 7/8/13
- Chance, William, et al. "Hemithoracic Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy After Pleurectomy/Decortication for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Toxicity, Patterns of Failure, and a Matched Survival Analysis." International Journal of Radiation Oncology. January 1, 2015