Mesothelioma is an uncommon and aggressive type of cancer, and one that is often fatal once diagnosed. This type of cancer has a long latency period. This means symptoms are not detectable until the disease has often progressed to stage 3 and 4 of the cancer ranking system. Mesothelioma is caused by being exposed to asbestos and after this initial exposure, it can take anywhere from 20 to 40 years before experiencing their first symptom. It is estimated that 2,850 American men and women are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma but this is not a 50/50 split between the two genders. Men are much more likely to develop this rare disease in comparison to women. The theory/reason behind this is men held the jobs where asbestos was more commonly found.
The Average Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of a diagnosed mesothelioma cancer patient is relatively short. According to the estimate from the National Institute of Health, once a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, he or she has an average of 8 to 18 months to live. Early detection of this disease can lead to a much better prognosis, but since mesothelioma cancer symptems manifest late, this makes the diagnosis of the disease difficult at an early stage.
Since mesothelioma is usually found in the latter stages, physicians can’t apply the initial, more effective treatments that are needed to control the progression of the disease. 40% of mesothelioma cancer patients survive the disease for about a year, and 10% of the patients have a chance to live for 5 years+. Treatment is everything when it comes to a patient’s mesothelioma life expectancy. If a patient tries to tough out the symptoms and refuses to get checked out, this could absolutely lead to an early death. If a patient does not receive any type of treatment, their average life expectancy will now drop between 4-8 months. Detection of mesothelioma at an early state gives patients a wide range of treatments that can help them combat with cancer, which will not only increase their life expectancy, but also improve their quality of life. Here is a short but excellent video that explains mesothelioma prognosis and life expectancy.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Factors
The patient life span also depends on different factors, such as, their histology, the location of their tumor, their age, their gender (as mentioned earlier) and their overall health. Based on histologic form, epithelial cancer has a median mesothelioma survival rate of 12.5 months, sarcomatoid cancer has a 9.4 month rate, and a mixed type cancer’s rate is 11 months. Patients diagnosed with epithelial mesothelioma have a higher chance to live longer when compared to the other two.
The location of the tumor also affects how long the patient will live. Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma have a higher chance to survive or live longer compared to the other types.
The age and the overall health of the patient can also contribute to how long they can survive the disease. Patients that are diagnosed with mesothelioma at a young age and with a healthy body, have the possibility to survive cancer much longer when compared to those that are older or those with a weaker immune system. The difference in age is actually staggering statistically when it comes to their mesothelioma prognosis. A patient diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 45 has a 40% chance to live 5+ years. A patient that is 65 years old has less than 1% chance to leave 5+ years after diagnosis.
To A Better, Brighter Future
Although the life expectancy of diagnosed mesothelioma patients is indeed short, all of these statistics are from over the past 10 years. Since then, we have had treatment advances as well as a much better understanding of what exactly mesothelioma is and we now know all the common asbestos locations. Things are definitely looking up and with more clinical trials being funded and treatments tested, the life expectancy of patients that are diagnosed with mesothelioma have a much better future than those of the past. All the information and percentages listed above are simply statistics and it doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance to live longer than the average life expectancy.
- Mesothelioma Treatment Community. (2017 February 25). Retrieved from
- Tan, W. W. (2014 April 23). Mesothelioma. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280367-overview#showall
- Update on Mesothelioma. (2015 June 1). Retrieved from http://www.cancercare.org/publications/196-update_on_mesothelioma
Updated: March 6, 2017