The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor, with most patients living less than 1 year. The type of mesothelioma, stage of the cancer, and patient health are the three most important factors used to determine prognosis. Mesothelioma prognosis can be improved by receiving treatment as soon as possible and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Malignant mesothelioma is extremely aggressive and has a long latency period, which means it usually remains undetected until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Mesothelioma cannot be cured. However, the prognosis for mesothelioma has been slowly improving over the years. This improvement in prognosis is due to the development of experimental treatments, new detection and diagnostic methods, and other areas of research in clinical trials.
How a disease will progress. A prognosis can be good or bad, and may include a life expectancy estimate
How long a patient can expect to survive. This may change with treatment and other developments.
A statistic (percentage or ratio) indicating how many people live a certain amount of time after diagnosis
Read Survivor Stories
Although mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, there is still hope. Many mesothelioma survivors have become advocates who share their stories to let others know that treatment can work. Read the stories of mesothelioma survivors today.
What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Prognosis?
There are five primary factors that doctors consider when determining a prognosis for mesothelioma patients.
Of the three primary cell types of mesothelioma, epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common and also has a better prognosis than sarcomatoid or biphasic mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma patients diagnosed at an early stage will have a better prognosis than those diagnosed at a later stage. By Stage III and Stage IV, generally only palliative treatments are given to relieve pain and discomfort.
If the mesothelioma has spread to other parts of the body from where it originated (i.e., metastasized), the prognosis is much worse. Once the disease begins to spread, it is much harder to remove the cancer through surgery or kill it with chemotherapy.
Patients who are relatively young and healthy will have a better prognosis, because their bodies are better able to handle the treatments. Older patients also tend to have other conditions that can exacerbate the disease or limit treatment options.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Type
The type of mesothelioma, which is determined by the location where it first develops, can have a big effect on the prognosis of the disease.
On average, patients who receive some form of treatment live between six and twelve months after diagnosis. Some treatments have been linked to slightly longer survival times, such as chemotherapy using pemetrexed (Alimta®) and Cisplatin.
The average survival period for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is 1 year. However, patients who are healthy enough to undergo surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have a much higher average length of survival, with as many as half living more than five years.
In most cases, pericardial mesothelioma is not even diagnosed until an autopsy is performed. For patients who are diagnosed while still alive, pericardial mesothelioma presents an extremely poor prognosis.
Improving a Mesothelioma Prognosis
In recent years, research has helped to discover and develop new and more effective treatments for mesothelioma, which has done a lot to improve prognosis. However, advancements have been slow and incremental at best.
Improving Prognosis Before Diagnosis
Perhaps the best way to improve prognosis is to catch mesothelioma early. By using blood tests to identify certain biomarkers – that is, high levels of specific substances in the blood – researchers have had some success at finding new ways to detect mesothelioma early.
The first thing individuals can do is to understand the relationship between mesothelioma and asbestos. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and experience any symptoms of mesothelioma, you should talk to your doctor right away.
Improving Prognosis After Diagnosis
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, improving prognosis depends on the cell type, location, and metastasis of the tumors, as well as the patient’s age, sex, and overall health.
While some of these factors are unchangeable, you can certainly make sure you eat right and exercise regularly. Engaging in holistic practices such as meditation, massage, and yoga can also help alleviate mental and physical stresses, which may improve prognosis as well.
Some treatments have been shown to be more effective than others as well. For example, surgery coupled with HIPEC has been demonstrated to significantly improve the prognosis for some patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. Patients with unresectable tumors (i.e., they can’t be removed through surgery) may benefit from a chemotherapy treatment of pemetrexed, cisplatin, and bevacizumab.
Finally, in some cases, clinical trials can provide a final hope for improving prognosis in some patients. These trials are established as research venues for experimental treatments like immunotherapy, gene therapy, and photodynamic therapy, which offer promising results.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Their Families
Request a Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center
Sign up for Our Mesothelioma Treatment Alert
Speak with an 11-Year Mesothelioma Survivor
Financial Assistance Available to Help with Treatment Costs
Mesothelioma Prognosis and Treatment Costs
Mesothelioma treatment costs can be significant, regardless of a patient’s prognosis. Some insurance companies may not cover the costs of diagnostic tests, clinical trials, or other experimental therapies. In many cases, there are related costs such as travel, lost wages, and secondary conditions that need to be paid for, as well.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, consider taking steps to help offset this potential financial burden. Learn about the financial assistance that is available.