Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Researchers determine survival rates by studying people after they are diagnosed or have started treatments. That said, every case is different, and longer-term survival may sometimes be possible.

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What Is the Survival Rate for Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma survival rates show how many patients are still alive after a certain period of time has passed. Survival rates are usually determined by studying groups of patients after they are diagnosed or begin treatment.

Average Survival Rates for Mesothelioma

Time After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 year73%
3 years22.9%
5 years10%

When learning about malignant mesothelioma survival rates, it’s important to remember that statistical rates alone do not determine how long a patient will live. A number of different factors can affect overall survival time.

Factors that affect mesothelioma survival rates include:

  • Age: Younger patients may respond better to mesothelioma treatments, meaning they may survive longer.
  • Mesothelioma cell types: Some mesothelioma tumors are made up of cells that grow slower and respond easier to treatment than other cancerous cells.
  • Type of mesothelioma: Mesothelioma can develop in the linings of different organs, and some types of mesothelioma are easier to treat than others.
  • Other factors: Patients who are otherwise healthy and diagnosed before the cancer has spread can typically tolerate life-extending treatments better.

Finally, remember that with new advancements in treatment and research, survival rates of mesothelioma patients are slowly improving over time.

Survivorship of both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma has improved in recent years, as more research has been done and new treatments have been introduced.

In some cases, patients who were given a poor prognosis and low chance of survival went on to beat the odds and live for many years after their diagnosis.

Survival Rate vs Life Expectancy

Survival rates are often confused with life expectancy:

  • Life expectancies refer to the estimated amount of time a given patient is expected to live.
  • Survival rates refer to the number of patients who live past a given time benchmark (e.g., one-year survival rate) and are based on the historic data of previous patients.

Doctors will use average life expectancies and survival rates to estimate how long a patient may expect to live after a diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Location

Mesothelioma can develop in one of four sites throughout the body, and where the cancer forms can greatly impact survival rates. Some types of mesothelioma will be easier to treat than others.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, is the most common type of this cancer.

The overall malignant pleural mesothelioma survival rates are shown in the table below.

Time After DiagnosisPleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates
6 months55%
1 year33%
5 years5%

Patients who showed the best median survival were those who received surgery with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, rather than just one or neither of these treatments.

Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Stage

Mesothelioma stage is one of the most useful ways to break down survival rate data. The stage of the cancer refers to its metastasis, or how far the malignant growth has spread from its original location.

Mesothelioma stages are usually represented on a scale of 1 to 4. The higher the stage, the further the cancer has spread throughout the body.

According to the ACS, only pleural mesothelioma has a staging system since the other types of mesothelioma are much less common. These other types are classified as “localized” or “advanced” depending on how far the cancer has spread when diagnosed.

The following numbers showcase the overall pleural mesothelioma survival rates and survival times, categorized by stage. Numbers can differ somewhat, based on which study provides them.

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 1

  • Median Survival Time: 21 to 51 months
  • Two-Year Survival Rate: 41-46%
  • Five-Year Survival Rate: 13-16%

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 2

  • Median Survival Time: 19 to 26 months
  • Two-Year Survival Rate: 38%
  • Five-Year Survival Rate: 10%

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 3

  • Median Survival Time: 15 to 16 months
  • Two-Year Survival Rate: 26-30%
  • Five-Year Survival Rate: 5-8%

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 4

  • Median Survival Time: 8 to 12 months
  • Two-Year Survival Rate: 17%
  • Five-Year Survival Rate: >1%

These survival rates are approximate since the extent of metastasis varies within each general stage.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates

In general, peritoneal mesothelioma has the best prognosis compared to the other types of this disease. This is largely due to improved treatments that combine surgery with heated chemotherapy, which allows doctors to greatly limit the cancer’s spread.

The overall peritoneal mesothelioma survival rates are shown below.

Time After DiagnosisOverall Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rates
1 Year92%
3 Years74%
6 Years65%
10 Years39%

These survival rates are greatly impacted by whether a patient can receive treatment. Without treatment, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have a median survival time of under 5 months to a year after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Cell Type

Because mesothelioma tumors can be made up of different types of cells — and some of which respond better to treatment than others — cell type also impacts survival rates.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

According to Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, patients who have an epithelioid mesothelioma cell type have better survival rates than those with other cell types.

Mesothelioma tumors made up of epithelial cells respond better to treatment than do tumors made up of other cell types. Epithelial cells tend to divide at a slower rate, allowing the spread of the cancer to be slightly more contained.

According to a study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, the two-year survival rate for epithelioid mesothelioma is 65%, provided the patients were treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The five-year survival rate is 27%.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells tend to multiply and spread rapidly throughout the body. They also do not respond as well to treatments when compared to epithelioid cells.

For these reasons, patients diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma tend to have lower survival rates. The Dana-Farber Cancer Center found that just 20% of patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma would still be alive after two years, and none were alive after five years.

Biphasic Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Biphasic mesothelioma tumors are made up of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cell types. Because of this, the survival rate can vary depending on how much of each cell type is present.

In the previously referenced study about testicular mesothelioma survival rates, the researchers found that biphasic mesothelioma tumors were associated with a lower overall survival rate than those with epithelioid mesothelioma.

Survival Rates by Patient Demographic

Mesothelioma survival rates are also affected by patients’ demographics (characteristics such as sex and age). Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are Caucasian American men over the age of 65.


Mesothelioma primarily affects men, but women who have the disease tend to live longer than their male counterparts. The exact reasons for this are not yet known, but some medical experts believe hormonal differences could be a factor.

The chart below shows the overall mesothelioma survival rates broken down by gender.

Survival Rate After DiagnosisMaleFemale
1 Year Survival Rate37.6%45.4%
2 Year Survival Rate17.4%29.3%
3 Year Survival Rate10.4%22.2%
4 Year Survival Rate7.7%18.6%
5 Year Survival Rate5.9%16%

Experts hope to determine why women survive longer to see how they can improve survival rates in men.


Age will also factor into a patient’s prognosis. Older patients have a significantly lower survival rate than younger patients.

Age GroupOverall Survival Rate
Under 5057.2%
Over 7528.5%

Age affects survival rates because younger patients are typically healthier and stronger than seniors. Because of this, they often qualify for a greater range of treatments, including aggressive surgeries that may cause complications in elderly patients.


Mesothelioma affects Caucasian Americans more than any other race, according to a report from the CDC.

Other Factors

In addition to these demographic factors, patient lifestyle can also impact survival rates. General health-related habits such as diet, drug use, and fitness all play a role in how long a patient with mesothelioma may survive.

If a patient was in poor overall health even before a mesothelioma diagnosis, they may not be able to safely undergo aggressive treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

If you have a known history of asbestos exposure and are now displaying symptoms of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, a mesothelioma attorney can help determine if you are eligible for compensation.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates After Treatment

After diagnosis, most mesothelioma patients are highly encouraged to seek cancer treatment to improve their survival time. Though mesothelioma cannot be cured, treatments are a patient’s best option at increasing their lifespan.

Mesothelioma treatment plans typically aim to destroy as much of the cancer as possible, either by physically removing tumors with surgery or by killing cancer cells through chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these treatments.

All of these treatments help slow the cancer’s spread to major organs and thus prevent life-threatening complications.

Mesothelioma Surgery Survival Rates

Through surgery, a mesothelioma specialist will remove visible cancer tumors and, in some cases, the parts of the body where the tumors developed.

Different surgeries will be performed depending on what type of mesothelioma a patient has.

Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)

As part of extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), mesothelioma specialists remove all visible tumors, the lung closest to where the cancer developed, and the lining of the lung.

The median survival time for patients who received this procedure was 18 months, according to 24 years’ worth of data analyzed by renowned mesothelioma specialists.

Pleurectomy with Decortication (P/D)

Patients with pleural mesothelioma may also be eligible for a pleurectomy with decortication (P/D). With this procedure, the lining of the lung — along with any mesothelioma tumors — are removed but the affected lung is not.

SMART (Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy) Survival Rates

Through the SMART approach, pleural mesothelioma patients receive a high dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) followed by an EPP.

Clinical studies found that this procedure improved survival rates significantly when compared to a surgery-first approach. With just surgery, the 3-year pleural mesothelioma survival rate was 32%. With SMART, the survival rate skyrocketed to 72%.

Cytoreduction with HIPEC (Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy)

Cytoreduction with HIPEC after surgery or by itself can greatly improve survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

When used together, all visible mesothelioma tumors are removed through surgery, and the affected area is then bathed with heated chemotherapy drugs.

One study observed the outcomes of patients who received this multimodal combination treatment and followed up with them over five years.

The results found the following five-year survival rates:

  • 40% for patients who received neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy
  • 67% for patients who received adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy
  • 62% for those who received perioperative (during surgery) chemotherapy
  • 56% for patients in the study who didn’t receive any chemotherapy

According to the University of Maryland Medical System, 69% of mesothelioma patients will still be alive 5 years after receiving this procedure.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates With Multimodal Therapy

For mesothelioma patients, multimodal therapy — a combination of more than one type of treatment — yields the best results.

For pleural mesothelioma, a trimodal approach has proven to be the most effective method of treatment for increasing survival. The trimodal therapy method combines surgery with chemotherapy and radiation to kill as many cancer cells as possible.

Multimodal therapy is also proven to be the best approach to treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. In fact, cytoreduction with HIPEC is a form of multimodal therapy as it combines both surgery and chemotherapy.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates Without Treatment

Mesothelioma survival rates are typically lower if a patient does not seek treatment because the cancer will continue to spread if left unchecked.

However, life-extending treatments (such as invasive surgery) may not be a safe option for every mesothelioma patient, especially those diagnosed after the cancer has spread throughout the body.

In these cases, specialists can give mesothelioma patients an estimated life expectancy if treatments are not available and recommend other medical options to ease a patient’s pain or symptoms.

Stories from Mesothelioma Survivors

Some mesothelioma victims have gone on to surpass the low survival rates associated with this cancer. See how three people made the most from life with mesothelioma.


George was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after complaining of shortness of breath.

Faced with a terminal diagnosis, George defined life on his own terms by visiting close friends and golfing with his son while undergoing chemotherapy. He lived long enough to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and become a grandfather.

Today, George’s widow and family continue to honor his legacy by participating in mesothelioma advocacy events in his memory.


Richard received a mesothelioma diagnosis after suffering from chest pain and difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, asbestos — the only known cause of mesothelioma — had been present throughout Richard’s life.

As a child, his mother worked at an asbestos textile factory in Ohio, and in the 1950s, Richard served in the U.S. Air Force. From the 1930s to the early 1980s, the military heavily relied on asbestos-containing products.

Though doctors initially gave Richard a week to live, he beat the odds and survived for much longer.


At the age of 29, Mike was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was initially given a year or less to live. Mike had no idea that his initially mild symptoms, including shortness of breath, could have been the result of this deadly cancer.

Despite this grim prognosis, Mike continues to fight on to this day, enduring numerous surgeries and joining the few survivors who have attained long-term survival. Today, Mike is an advocate for a ban on asbestos-containing products.

Mesothelioma Survival Rate and Your Lifespan

While mesothelioma survival rates are important to understand, they ultimately do not define how long you may live after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

The ACS notes that mesothelioma survival rates do not take all the factors listed above into account, and as new treatment options emerge through research, survival rates may improve.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there may be ways to improve your overall survival time. For example, you can access key medical treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation with the help of mesothelioma specialists.

To learn more about mesothelioma survival rates and how to afford treatments that may help you, contact our team today.

Easier Than It May Seem

Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a mesothelioma claim?

A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?

An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.

How do I file a mesothelioma claim?

To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.

What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?

The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.

How long do mesothelioma claims take?

Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.

Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.

What is the average payout for mesothelioma?

There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.

How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?

Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.

What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?

Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:

  • Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
  • Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
  • Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
    A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)

Contact us to learn more.

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