Malignant Mesothelioma

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival statistics for mesothelioma

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or even don’t want to know them. If you don’t want to read about the survival statistics for mesothelioma, stop here and skip to the next section.

To get survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least several years ago. Although the numbers below are among the most current we have available, improvements in treatment since then could result in a more favorable outcome for people now being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot be used to predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Knowing the type and the stage of a person’s cancer is important in estimating their outcome. But many other factors can affect survival, such as a person’s age and overall health, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Even taking these other factors into account, survival rates are at best rough estimates. Your doctor can tell you if the numbers below apply, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

Mesothelioma is a serious disease. By the time the symptoms appear and cancer is diagnosed, the disease is often advanced. Regardless of the extent of the cancer, mesothelioma can be very hard to treat.

Relative 5-year survival takes the proportion of people with the cancer that have survived 5 years (the 5 year survival) and compares it to the survival expected in a similar group of people without the cancer. This helps adjust for deaths from causes other than the cancer. Based on data from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program, the relative 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is between 5% and 10%. People diagnosed at a younger age tend to survive longer.

The numbers in the table below are from a large international study that looked at the median survival time of patients with pleural mesothelioma who were treated with surgery to cure the cancer. The numbers include the relative 5-year survival rate and median survival. Median survival is the length of time it took for half the people in a certain group (like those with a certain type and stage of cancer) to die. It is kind of like an average – half the patients in the group live longer than that and half the patients don’t.

    Stage

    Median
    Survival

 

    I

    21 months

    II

    19 months

    III

    16 months

    IV

    12 months

As a general rule, survival times are likely to be longer for people with mesotheliomas that can be operated on than for those with cancers that have spread too far to be removed. Other prognostic factors, such as those listed in the previous section, also affect survival.


Last Medical Review: 12/19/2013
Last Revised: 12/19/2013