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The stage of a patient’s disease is a designation of how advanced it is. Less advanced stages (1 and 2) have longer life expectancies.
The location of a patient’s tumor affects the type of treatment available. Certain treatment options are more effective than others.
The patient’s life expectancy varies by cell type. Certain cell types spread more quickly than others.
When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the first question that tends to come to mind once the shock subsides is, “How long do I have left?” Patients want to know how much longer they can expect to live in a straightforward way without being overwhelmed by confusing statistics.
Although there is no way to tell for sure how long an individual patient’s life expectancy will be, an estimate based on the experience of other patients can be provided.
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Those diagnosed with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma have a life expectancy of 19 months. These life expectancies include all the cell types of mesothelioma (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic) and are based on patients whose average age was 60 years old.
The life expectancy for the different cell types of mesothelioma varies. Life expectancies for pleural mesothelioma patients with epithelioid cell types are higher than patients with sarcomatoid cell types.
This is because sarcomatoid type cells can spread faster than epithelioid type cells. Early stage patients are typically eligible for surgical treatment regardless of cell type, which, in most cases, can improve life expectancy.
Those who have been diagnosed with biphasic pleural mesothelioma do not have as clear a picture as other cell types. The biphasic cell type is a combination epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells, and the life expectancy varies on the ratio of the two cell types.
If there is a heavier epithelioid influence, the life expectancy is longer than if there is a larger presence of sarcomatoid cells.
Detection of pleural mesothelioma at stage 1 or 2 is rare. However, the earlier the mesothelioma is detected, the sooner the treatment can begin. Curative surgeries, like the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy, are performed on patients with early stage pleural mesothelioma, and in some cases these surgeries are even used on late stage patients.
Use our free Doctor Match program to get connected with a mesothelioma specialist with the experience to treat a patient’s unique diagnosis.
Stage 2 Epithelioid Pleural Mesothelioma survivor for 12+ years.
Epithelioid Peritoneal Mesothelioma survivor for 5+ years.
Epithelioid Peritoneal Mesothelioma survivor for 6+ years.
Patients in these stages who are over the age of 65 have an average survival of 6 months, but some patients at this age live much longer, especially if they are in otherwise good health.
Late stage patients with epithelioid pleural mesothelioma have a life expectancy of 10-12 months. These patients tend to respond best to treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Patients with a sarcomatoid or biphasic cellular makeup do not respond to treatment as well as epithelioid patients, but treatment is still an option.
After patients are diagnosed with late stage pleural mesothelioma there are a number of things they can do to increase their prognosis. Patients can seek the help of a mesothelioma specialist who can determine the best treatment plan for their unique diagnosis.
These trials can potentially open up treatment options, such as surgery or novel therapies, that weren’t previously available to the patient. Learn more about clinical trials available for your diagnosis.
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Washington Cancer Institute
University of California Los Angeles Medical Center
The unusual origins pertaining to peritoneal mesothelioma and its development means methods for diagnosis, staging and management haven’t been definitely established. Less is understood about peritoneal mesothelioma because it is more rare (about 1/4 of all mesothelioma cases) than pleural meosthelioma. However, the average life expectancy for patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma is 12 months.
Factors such as age, gender and cell type tend to have the same effect on life expectancy in peritoneal patients as other types of mesothelioma. There are very few approximations of life expectancy for biphasic or sarcomatoid cell types because these diagnoses are extremely rare.
Despite the rarity of peritoneal diagnoses, there is some good news for these patients:
Some studies suggest the life expectancies for the biphasic and sarcomatoid cell types are about 6 months. As may be expected, patients whose tumor is localized (the cancer hasn’t spread) have longer life expectancies, while those with metastatic (the cancer has spread) peritoneal mesothelioma have shorter life expectancies. Early diagnosis also plays a huge role in improved life expectancies.
A study conducted by Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, one of the leading peritoneal mesothelioma specialists, showed that life expectancies are significantly improved in patients who have cytoreductive surgery with intraoperative chemotherapy.
Other studies report even higher survival times. One such study in 62 patients demonstrated an overall survival time of 79 months. It is assumed in the mesothelioma community that life expectancies are higher when cytoreductive surgeries are successful in removing as much of the cancerous tumor as possible, which helps explain why surgery is more effective for some patients.
Search top doctors like Dr. Sugarbaker on our interactive Mesothelioma Doctor Map.
Epithelioid cell types show the best life expectancies in all mesothelioma patients regardless of their age, gender or mesothelioma type because these cells aren’t as capable of spreading as biphasic and sarcomatoid cell types.
Life Expectancy: 242 days
Epithelioid cells are the most prevalent and also the most treatable. They are also found in other cancers like lung cancer, so there is plenty of information on what treatment is most effective
Life Expectancy: 207 days
Biphasic cell variations are the most difficult because it is a combination of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. The unpredictable nature of these cells can complicate treatment.
Life Expectancy: 142 days
Sarcomatoid cells are often more difficult to treat because they form fluid pockets rather than a singular distinctive tumor.
The success of treatment is largely determined by cellular makeup of the mesothelioma. There are unique treatment options available for each cell type. This is why it’s important to locate a mesothelioma specialist who specializes in your cell type.