About 40 percent of mesothelioma patients survive at least one year. Less than 10 percent survive longer than five years. Patients diagnosed in the earliest stage who undergo treatment have a five-year survival rate of 16 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Survival rates for mesothelioma are often given in terms of one-year or five-year survival. Thanks to advances in treatment, mesothelioma patients are beating the odds and living beyond average survival rates.
Five-year survival for mesothelioma patients has fluctuated for decades, according to reports from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.
Long-term survivors attribute their success to a multidisciplinary approach to treatment from mesothelioma specialists, alternative medicine, clinical trials and nutritional changes.
Mesothelioma Survival Rate vs. Life Expectancy
While these terms are often used interchangeably, mesothelioma life expectancy and survival rates carry different meanings.
Life expectancy refers to the average age a person is expected to live based on the year they were born, where they were born and other demographic factors. An aggressive cancer, such as mesothelioma, can shorten this average.
Survival rates come into play after a person is diagnosed with cancer or another serious health condition. These rates show the percentage of patients in a study or treatment group who are still alive for a certain period of time following a diagnosis.
Researchers usually describe the mesothelioma survival rate in terms of one-year survival. They also measure the percentage of patients who live two years, three years and five years.
Mesothelioma has no definitive cure. Most cases are diagnosed in a late stage, after tumors have spread. This is a main reason why survival rates are generally lower compared to other cancers.
Factors that Affect Survival Rate
Survival rates for mesothelioma cancer vary by the patient’s age, gender, race and several other factors. The location, stage and cell type of the cancer, as well as your overall health, have the strongest influence on your mesothelioma prognosis.
Overall, older mesothelioma patients have a much lower survival rate than younger ones. More than 55 percent of patients diagnosed before the age of 50 live one year. Less than 30 percent of patients 75 or older live the same amount of time.
This difference is largely because younger patients are eligible for more intensive treatments such as surgery. Older individuals may not be candidates for these procedures because of poor overall health or a high risk of complications.
|Age Range||Survival Rate|
|50 – 64||51.2%|
|65 – 74||40.9%|
Rates are similar for long-term survival. Patients diagnosed before age 50 have nearly a 25 percent chance of surviving a decade. That drops sharply — to 5.4 percent — for patients between the ages of 50 and 64.
However, it is rare for someone younger than 50 to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. The average age at diagnosis is 69.
The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed between ages 65-74 is 6.7 percent. That rate falls to 3.8 percent for those 75 or older.
|Race||1 Year||2 Years||3 Years||4 Years||5 Years|
|*Data includes Hispanics|
Race does not appear to impact mesothelioma survival rate much initially. It becomes a more telling factor as time passes. From three years on, the survival rate of white patients is slightly worse than black patients.
Five-year survival among whites is 7.8 percent, compared with 12 percent for blacks. After 10 years, only 4.4 percent of white patients survive, while 8.2 percent of blacks are alive a decade after diagnosis.
SEER data used to calculate these survival rates includes Hispanics among patients who identify as both black and white. Because mesothelioma is rarer among other races, reliable survival statistics are not available.
A 2015 study analyzed 13,734 pleural mesothelioma cases in the SEER database. It found that black patients lived longer than white patients despite being less likely to undergo aggressive surgery. Only 18 percent of black patients in the study had surgery, compared to 24 percent of white patients.
Typically, mesothelioma patients who have surgery survive longer than those who do not.