One of the main elements of a prognosis following a diagnosis of mesothelioma is the survival rate. Survival rates vary based on a number of different factors, and the rate in your case could vary substantially to someone else even if there are some similarities between patients. The following explains the variety of factors that influence survival rates of mesothelioma patients and what the rates are based on these characteristics.
What is a Survival Rate?
When a doctor or medical team refers to the “survival rate,” they are referring to a measure of how long a person typically lives after a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Typically, survival rates are expressed as a matter of months, years, or a combination of the two. The median survival rate is the length of time after diagnosis where fifty percent of patients are still alive, and survival rates are also often expressed at the two- and five-year marks.
The prognosis of a mesothelioma diagnosis is largely based on the survival rates of similarly situated patients who have the same type, stage, and general demographics as you. On average, the survival rate of a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is fourteen to twenty-two months, but this can vary substantially based on a number of specific factors for your case.
It is important to note that the survival rates for patients are never dictated by a single factor of their mesothelioma diagnosis.
The various elements of a mesothelioma diagnosis and their corresponding survival rates all factor together when determining the overall survival rate for patients that are similarly situated to you. Some elements, such as the stage of the disease and the treatment options utilized, have a greater impact on the survival rates than factors like a patient’s gender. To learn more, talk to your medical team about how the various aspects of your diagnosis may affect the overall estimation of the survival rate in your case.
Types of Mesothelioma
The type of mesothelioma has a substantial impact on the survival rates of this cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, typically has the highest median survival rate at each stage of diagnosis as well as the highest 2-year and 5-year survival rates. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and has a lower median survival rate at each stage as well as lower 2-year and 5-year survival rates.
There are also rarer forms of mesothelioma, particularly pericardial and testicular mesothelioma. These forms of mesothelioma generally do not have recorded survival rates, but other demographics about the patient can help estimate a median survival rate as well as 2-year and 5-year survival rates when these types of mesotheliomas are detected. Testicular mesothelioma is found in less than one percent of all mesothelioma cases, and pericardial mesothelioma typically is not discovered until after a person has passed away during a postmortem examination.
Stages of Mesothelioma
The stage of mesothelioma upon diagnosis has a substantial impact on the survival rate of a patient. Mesothelioma is separated into four Stages: 1, 2, 3, and 4. Patients that are diagnosed in Stages 1 and 2 generally have higher survival rates than patients diagnosed in Stages 3 or 4. Survival rates for Stage 1 have a median survival rate of 21 months, a 2-year survival rate of 41%, and a 5-year survival rate of 33%.
Stage 2 mesothelioma patients have differing survival rates for the various types of the cancer. For pleural mesothelioma located in the lining of the lungs, the median survival rate of nineteen months, with a 2-year survival rate of 39% and a 5-year survival rate of 9%. For peritoneal mesothelioma located in the lining of the abdomen, the median survival rate is 67 months, with a 2-year survival rate of 64% and a 5-year survival rate of 53%.
Stages 3 and 4 are the later stages of mesothelioma, where the tumor is of significant size or the cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes. The survival rates of mesothelioma for Stages 3 and 4 are typically lower than the early stages of this disease. The median survival rate of pleural mesothelioma at Stage 3 is sixteen months, and the median survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma at this stage is 56 months. Pleural mesothelioma patients at Stage 3 have a 2-year survival rate of 29% and a 5-year survival rate of 6%. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients with Stage 3 cancer have a 2-year survival rate of 71% and a 5-year survival rate of 48%. For the rarer types of mesothelioma, such as testicular or pericardial, data regarding survival rates are not readily available.
For all types of mesothelioma, the average life expectancy is around one year at Stage 4. For Stage 4 pleural mesothelioma, the median survival rate is twelve months, with a 2-year survival rate of 24% and a 5-year survival rate of 4%. Stage 4 peritoneal mesothelioma has a median survival rate of 26 months, with a 2-year survival rate of 51% and a 5-year survival of 30%.
Age & Health
The age of the patient can substantially affect the survival rate of a mesothelioma prognosis. Generally speaking, patients who are younger and healthier have a more significant survival rate than patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma at an older age or are in poorer health. The survival rates based on age and health alone are as follows:
- 45 years or younger: 39.7%
- 45-54 years old: 15.7%
- 55-64 years old: 7.5%
- 65-74 years old: 6%
- 75 years or older: 2.7%
The survival rates for patients under 45 years old are not readily available, as the overwhelming majority of patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma later in life. This is because the cancer often takes years or even decades after an initial asbestos exposure to develop in a patient’s body before metastasizing into a tumor.
The gender of a mesothelioma patient can also impact the survival rate. Women are far less likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, but they also generally respond better to treatment and live longer than their male counterparts. Regardless of other factors, almost half of all women diagnosed with mesothelioma live for at least a year after diagnosis and around ten percent live for another decade.
Treatment Increasing Survival Rates
One of the best ways to improve the survival rate after a mesothelioma diagnosis is to engage in treatment. Mesothelioma treatment comes in many forms, with the most popular including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and multimodal treatment that is a combination of two or more individual treatments. When including surgery as part of a multimodal plan, survival rates for patients increased to 2-6 years. Radiation combined with other treatment options for mesothelioma increased survival rates by about two years, and chemotherapy survival rates are around fourteen months for patients with pleural mesothelioma. The survival rates also increased to eighteen months when pleural mesothelioma patients engaged in immunotherapy. These rates also increase when combined with one another as part of a multimodal plan. To learn more about how the survival rates increase based on treatment options and mesothelioma type, talk to your oncologist or medical team today.