Written by: Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Mesothelioma Prognosis

Mesothelioma patients usually face a challenging prognosis, but treatment is improving life expectancy. The average outlook is usually 1-2 years, but you can survive for longer with the help of an experienced doctor.


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What Is a Prognosis?

A prognosis is the medical prediction of a disease’s outcome. In the case of cancers like mesothelioma, this forecast often includes a life expectancy, plus chances of recovery or recurrence.

The prediction is based on survival rates. A survival rate is simply a percentage indicating how many patients survive over a certain amount of time.

Doctors usually give patients their outlook once they officially diagnose the condition. Patients may receive multiple prognoses, one for each treatment option available to them. For instance, chemotherapy may provide patients a different life expectancy than surgery.

What Is the Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

The average predicted survival for mesothelioma is a little more than one year. This is based on survival rates from past mesothelioma cases, taking into account new therapies. There are variances based on the type of mesothelioma and treatment chosen.

For instance, doctors usually anticipate pleural mesothelioma patients to live 8-19 months. Aggressive treatment, such as surgery, can extend survival. Peritoneal mesothelioma has a better outlook, and treatment is associated with survival rates of 3-5 years.

Every case is different, and your case may have a better outlook than most. Before expecting your survival, talk to a specialist. They may provide hopeful news due to the stage of your cancer. Your health may increase your chances of a full recovery.

Improving the Outlook for Mesothelioma Patients

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

The outlook for pleural mesothelioma is poor. Most patients live for around one year, which is how doctors base their predictions for newly diagnosed cases. However, patients treated with radical surgery can beat this average by multiple years. In a study published on the Annals of Thoracic Surgery in 2016, around 50% of pleural mesothelioma patients who underwent extended pleurectomy with decortication lived for at least three years.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The survival for peritoneal mesothelioma has jumped up incredibly in the past decade. Patients treated with cytoreduction plus heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) often live for multiple years. Around 60% live for three years and nearly 50% live for five years, according to one study. When the disease is diagnosed during early stages, the outlook significantly improves. The two-year survival rate for patients with a peritoneal carcinomatosis index score of 1-19 (equivalent to stage 1 and stage 2) was 53% in one study. Higher PCI scores led to a two-year survival rate below 10%.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Due to its rarity, survival for pericardial mesothelioma is poor. Many patients aren’t diagnosed until they’ve already passed away, so not much information is available about outlook at the time of diagnosis. Patients can outlive the usual outlooks by finding a specialist and seeking aggressive treatment.

Beat Your Diagnosis With Doctor Match

Doctor Match

Many patients improve their outlook by finding a doctor. An experienced specialist can perform treatments (such as the EPP or P/D surgery) most likely to improve survival. Get connected to a top doctor using our free Doctor Match program.

  • We learn about your diagnosis and treatment history.
  • We search through our network of top mesothelioma doctors who fit your needs.
  • We connect you with the specialist most suited to treat your mesothelioma.

4 Important Ways to Improve Your Prognosis

Understanding what encompasses a survival prediction can help mesothelioma patients make healthcare decisions. The most important decision to make is taking advantage of factors within their control.


Find a Great Mesothelioma Specialist - Choosing a specialist is one of the most important steps to take. Mesothelioma specialists have years of experience treating mesothelioma and conducting research for new therapies. There are top specialists in several parts of the country. Our Doctor Match program helps match patients to experienced specialists.


Consider Your Treatment Options - Mesothelioma research has come a long way in the past decade, creating more treatment options than ever before. Surgery for mesothelioma is the most curative treatment option available in prolonging a patient’s life. Patients not eligible for surgery can take advantage of other cancer treatments, like chemotherapy or immunotherapy, or gain access to exclusive treatments in clinical trials.


Improve Your Personal Health - A healthy immune system manages treatments like chemotherapy and fights off diseases impacting recovery. The healthier a patient is when cancer strikes, the better the body defends itself. However, it’s never too late to begin healthy habits. Patients can actively improve and maintain their personal health through diet and exercise. Making healthy choices after a diagnosis can make a significant impact.


Get a Second Opinion - Second opinions are extremely important after receiving a diagnosis. Some physicians can evaluate patients remotely if the scans and other data are sent to their medical offices. Alexis Kidd learned her mesothelioma wasn’t as advanced as she thought after getting a second opinion. Some doctors may not offer certain treatments if they think the risks outweigh the benefits. Getting a second opinion can often mean gaining access to treatments not previously available.

Take Action to Improve Your Chances

Patients have a limited amount of time to take meaningful action. Since tumors can spread quickly, patients should learn what treatment options for mesothelioma are available. Only a mesothelioma specialist can provide patients with the most beneficial treatment. Specialists are also an essential tool for those who haven’t had a second opinion.

mesothelioma prognosis

Jill Litton

Jill Litton is the perfect example of a survivor who took control of her diagnosis. She was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2011. She explored her treatment options with her specialist and decided to combine chemotherapy with the surgical removal of her tumor. Jill, now cancer-free, is thankful for the specialists who helped her to an optimistic outlook.

Factors Influencing Your Outlook

Receiving a diagnosis for mesothelioma is a difficult experience. Nobody is ready to hear they have cancer, or how long they have left to live. However, this is just the first step and can change with available treatment options. Remember that your doctor’s estimation for your life expectancy is a guess, not a fact.

There are certain factors not under a patient’s control. These factors can affect your doctor’s prediction:

  • Type of mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial)
  • Symptoms
  • Stage of disease at the time of diagnosis
  • Histology (cell type of your mesothelioma)
  • Latency period
  • Metastasis (spread)
  • Age and gender
  • Additional illnesses

Survival Rate

The survival rate for mesothelioma has improved over the past decade as new treatment options have emerged. This offers hope to patients and can improve their initial outlook.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates by Year

Survival statistics for more aggressive diseases and cancers are commonly organized by five-year rates. This is the percentage of patients who survive five years or more.

However, survival is also measured one, two and three years after patients are diagnosed. Doctors use these statistics to compare the effectiveness of treatments.

Patient Survival Rate by Age

Around 40% percent of patients diagnosed before age 45 live five years or longer. This is more than four times the average five-year diagnosis for mesothelioma.

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Prognosis

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How long do people usually live with mesothelioma?

People with mesothelioma usually live a few months to multiple years. While the average for all types of mesothelioma is 1-2 years, the type of mesothelioma and treatment a person has are significant factors.
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What is the average prognosis for pleural mesothelioma?

The average prognosis for pleural mesothelioma is 8-19 months. This cancer forms near the lungs and can easily spread to this organ, along with lymph nodes. These factors affect life expectancy, but early detection can lead to long-term survival.
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What is the average prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma?

Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma are expected to live on average around two years. Treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma often improves the survival to 3-5 years. This cancer usually spreads within the abdomen and doesn’t reach lymph nodes. It can be easy to treat with surgery.
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What are the main factors affecting your prognosis?

The type and stage of the disease will significantly impact prognosis. The earlier the stage, the better the expected survival time. Therefore, early detection is vital. Peritoneal mesothelioma also has a better outlook than pleural mesothelioma. Other factors are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Treatment
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How can you improve your mesothelioma prognosis?

Early detection and high-quality medical care are the best ways. The earlier you learn you have mesothelioma, the better your forecast is due to the limited spread of tumors. Receiving care from a specialist can also boost your survival chances due to their experience and access to treatment innovations.

Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is the lead patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She has a deep passion for patient care, which includes helping patients and their families search for treatment options at the top mesothelioma cancer centers. She finds the balance between encouraging patients to receive the best treatment possible while enjoying their time with loved ones and friends. Karen is a valuable asset for patients due to her knowledge of mesothelioma, compassion for the victims of this disease and dedication to guiding patients through their treatment journey.