A doctor will give you a mesothelioma prognosis as an overall outlook for your treatment and life expectancy. Prognosis is highly important because it helps to determine your treatment options.
Since mesothelioma is typically an aggressive cancer, the average life expectancy averages from 14 to 22 months. As a terminal cancer, most patients only live 1 year after diagnosis. Often, words like “good,” “favorable,” or “poor” will be used to describe your prognosis.
Life Expectancy: Factors to Consider
Though many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma only live one year after the diagnosis, your exact prognosis will depend on a variety of factors.
Below are the most important factors that go into your prognosis and life expectancy:
- Treatment type: Some treatments are more effective than others.
- Mesothelioma type: Certain types of mesothelioma are more aggressive than others.
- Stage: Later stages (stages 3 and 4) are more serious and have a worse prognosis than early stages (stages 1 and 2).
- Cell type: Mesothelioma cancer will be epithelioid cells, sarcomatoid cells, and biphasic cells (a mixture of the two). Patients with epithelioid cells tend to live 200 days longer than those with sarcomatoid cells.
- Age: Younger people have a better prognosis than older ones.
- Gender: Women with mesothelioma tend to live longer than men. Researchers are unclear why.
Prognosis by Treatment
You can improve your prognosis by improving your health and choosing a cancer treatment. The treatment you select will largely depend on the stage and cancer type. The most effective treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery and chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy and immunotherapy can also be used in multimodal therapy and clinical trials, but certain mesothelioma types are not suitable for radiation.
Unfortunately, surgery is often not an option for many patients since the cancer is not diagnosed until they are too late to qualify. As a result, chemotherapy is the most common treatment for patients with mesothelioma. Chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy are available at all stages of the cancer.
Prognosis After Chemotherapy
About 50% of patients with mesothelioma experience tumor shrinkage or halted tumor growth during chemotherapy. Patients on chemotherapy live about 12 months on average, while those with no treatment live around 4 months.
Prognosis After Surgery
Surgery is the most effective option for long-term survival, but it is not available for all patients. Only those diagnosed with stage 1, 2, or 3 pleural mesotheliomas can typically qualify for surgery. Often, surgery will be combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
Prognosis After Radiation
Radiation can shrink painful tumors, but it does not directly impact prognosis. It must be used with other therapies.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Type
There are four types of mesothelioma, but most patients with mesothelioma either have pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma. The mesothelioma type will largely affect prognosis, as well as treatment options.
Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form. About 75% of patients with mesothelioma have pleural mesothelioma. Prognosis, despite the prevalence of pleural mesothelioma, is often poor. Only about 40% of patients survive one year after diagnosis. Only around 9% live more than five years.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis
The second most common form of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma. This type has a much more favorable prognosis in comparison to the others. Most patients can survive about 6 to 12 months without any form of treatment. Around 30% of patients who receive surgery and therapy live more than five years after diagnosis.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Prognosis
Pericardial mesothelioma is incredibly rare and has a poor prognosis. Around 50% of patients with this rare form of mesothelioma only survive about six months after diagnosis.
Testicular mesothelioma is by far the rarest type, but it has the best prognosis. Most patients live around two years, though some may live more than 10 years after diagnosis.
Prognosis by Stage
Cancer is typically described by stages, ranging from 1 to 4. The stage tells you exactly how much the cancer has spread and how aggressive it is. Lower stages are considered the best in terms of prognosis. For example, stage 1 is the least severe, while stage 4 is the most severe.
Stage 1 Prognosis
Those with stage 1 mesothelioma have the best prognosis. They can often undergo aggressive treatment, allowing them to survive the longest. The average survival for a stage 1 diagnosis is 22.2 months. Those with stage 1A have a 2 year survival rate of 46%. Those with stage 1B, in comparison, have a 2 year survival rate of 41%.
Stage 2 Prognosis
Though stage 2 is more aggressive than stage 1, it is still considered an early stage. The average survival rate for stage 2 mesothelioma is 20 months. 38% of patients with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma live for 2 years after diagnosis.
Stage 3 Prognosis
Stage 3 is considered late term and the prognosis is unfavorable. The average survival for stage 3 is 17.9 months. Only 30% of patients with stage 3A mesothelioma survive two years. Those with stage 3B have a two year survival rate of 26%.
Stage 4 Prognosis
Stage 4 is the most serious cancer and the prognosis is almost always poor. The average survival of stage 4 mesothelioma is 14.9 months. Only 17% of patients with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma survive two years after diagnosis and less than 1% survived more than five years.
Diagnosis: Pleural mesothelioma, 2005
Diagnosed with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma in 2005, Luke has surpassed the odds and lived far longer than the initial prognosis. Today, he and his wife have retired to Florida so that they can live out the rest of their years by the ocean.
Diagnosis: Peritoneal mesothelioma, 2010
Thanks to the support of her family and the continued hard work of her doctors and medical team, Beth has lived a decade after her initial peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis. Though her initial outlook looked grim, she is glad she didn’t give up.