Surgeries to treat mesothelioma have led to increased survival rates in most patients and even survival in some cases.

Does Surgery Improve Survival Rates?

Mesothelioma survival rates are higher among patients who had surgery to remove their tumor. Surgically removing as much of the tumor as possible inhibits metastasis, which in turn increases survival rates. Find a mesothelioma specialist who can help you increase your survival rate through surgery.

Curative Surgical Treatments

  • Mesothelioma Extrapleural Pneumonectomy Treatment Surgery Icon

    Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP)

    This procedure is performed on stage 1 and 2 pleural mesothelioma patients. The goal is to remove all of the tumors in the chest cavity. One study reported an average survival time of 19 months after the surgery.

  • Mesothelioma Pleurectomy Treatment Surgery Icon

    Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D)

    This procedure is also used for pleural mesothelioma patients although it cannot be performed if the tumor spreads to the lung. Studies have recorded increased patient comfort and similar survival times to that of the EPP.

  • Mesothelioma Cytoreduction Treatment Surgery Icon


    Cytoreductive surgery is used for patients with early stage peritoneal mesothelioma. One study recorded a median survival time of seven years for patients who had the procedure.

Candidates for surgical treatment are typically those who have been diagnosed with stage 1 or stage 2 mesothelioma. However, advanced stage patients are sometimes accepted in clinical trials.

The type of surgery a patient undergoes depends on the location of the tumor. It is most effective when combined with chemotherapy and/or radiation. This multimodal approach has directly resulted in significantly increased survival rates and survival.

Patients with pericardial mesothelioma may opt to have a pericardiectomy, but operative procedures are typically only used for pain relief purposes. Little is known about survival rates after a pericardiectomy because the disease is so rare.

Pleural Mesothelioma Surgery

The extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) are the primary surgical options for patients with pleural mesothelioma. There is a treatment debate as to which procedure is more effective. However, many studies show the difference in improving survival rates between the two procedures is often negligible.

Regardless which surgical treatment patients received, the survival rate statistics were fairly the same; studies favoring one procedure over the other tend to be subject to selection bias. The procedure that is right for you depend on your diagnosis and overall health. Finding a cancer center that is experienced in performing these procedures is the best way to increase your survival time.

One study showed patients who underwent aggressive surgery had a 2-year survival rate of approximately over 35% and a 1-year survival rate of over 75%.

The survival rate of those who underwent surgical procedures is 3 times higher than patients who did not receive surgery.

This data shows the efficacy of surgical treatment versus overall survival rates for those with pleural mesothelioma. The choice to have an EPP or a P/D should be tailored to the individual because there currently isn’t enough evidence to suggest which procedure is better.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Surgery

The latest treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma is an operative cytoreduction with HIPEC (heated chemotherapy during surgery). The results of this treatment are very promising and show notable results in increasing survival rates. In one study by the National Cancer Institute, peritoneal mesothelioma patients had a median survival of over seven years following surgery.

Although peritoneal mesothelioma only makes up about ¼ of all mesothelioma cases, cytoreductive surgery has been developed and improved tremendously because it is used to treat many abdominal cancers.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients can significantly increase their life expectancy by getting this treatment. Compared to the standard 2-year survival rate of 35% for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, those who had an operative cytoreduction with HIPEC increased their two-year survival rate to approximately 70%.

Surviving Mesothelioma

Making the decision to have surgery can be hard and there are risks involved with every major surgery. However, numerous eligible patients who chose to have one of these procedures have experienced an improved quality of life, increased survival time and in many cases, survivorship.

Almost every survivor of mesothelioma attributes their success to one of these surgical procedures combined with either chemotherapy or radiation treatment. These patients have taken their lives back, by taking every opportunity that came their way to beat the odds. Learn the steps they took to reach remission in our free Mesothelioma Survival Guide.

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Survival Rates

What is the survival rate for pleural mesothelioma?

The one-year survival rate is 40% for pleural mesothelioma. The rate decreases with each additional year, although some stories are examples of long-term survival. According to a study on the National Library of Medicine:

  • The two-year survival rate is 18%
  • The five-year survival rate is 5%

What is the survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma?

The one-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is 50%, a statistic that proves this type of the cancer has a better prognosis than pleural mesothelioma. The rate decreases with each additional year, but patients with this cancer have hope for long-term survival:

  • The two-year survival rate is 35%
  • The five-year survival rate is 18%

Why is the mesothelioma survival rate improving?

The mesothelioma survival rate is improving due to heightened awareness of symptoms, more doctors with experience recognizing the cancer, and emerging therapies for curative treatment. These aspects are also driving forces behind boosts in survival rates:

  • Improved surgical techniques and experience from specialists
  • Tumor treating fields and immunotherapy as options for non-surgical candidates

What factors can affect survival rates for mesothelioma?

The location of mesothelioma has arguably the biggest effect on survival rates. Peritoneal mesothelioma usually has a better survival rate than pleural mesothelioma. Significant factors include:

  • Gender
  • Stage
  • Cell type
  • Age
  • Treatment