A mesothelioma prognosis is what doctors describe as an overall outlook for a specific patient. Mesothelioma is aggressive cancer with an average life expectancy of 14 to 22 months, but it is often terminal with most patients living only 1 year after diagnosis. A patient’s prognosis helps determine the treatment options they can pursue.
What Is the Prognosis for Mesothelioma?
The prognosis for most mesothelioma patients is generally poor because there is no cure for this disease.
Prognosis is often measured in terms such as “good,” “favorable,” “bad” or “poor” based on how the cancer is expected to progress. It includes the prospect of recovery and helps determine what treatment options may be available.
When patients ask about their prognosis, what they usually want to know is how long they will live.
How Long Do You Live After Being Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
Most patients live about one year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
How long you live with mesothelioma depends on the stage you are diagnosed at and how well you respond to mesothelioma treatments.
People diagnosed early, in stage 1 or stage 2, often qualify for surgery, which offers the best chance at long-term survival. Approximately 20% of pleural mesothelioma patients are diagnosed early enough to qualify for surgery. Stage 1 patients who undergo surgery have a median life expectancy of 22.2 months.
Most patients are diagnosed late, at stage 3 or 4, and do not qualify for surgery. Stage 4 mesothelioma patients who undergo treatment have a median life expectancy of 14.9 months.
Although statistics play a part in determining your prognosis, every mesothelioma case is unique.
Some mesothelioma patients are beating the typical outlook thanks to advances in treatment and care. Survivors credit life span increases to multimodal treatment, improvements in their diet, and complementary therapies.
Improving a Mesothelioma Prognosis
You can choose to be proactive and take steps to improve your prognosis. You can’t change important prognostic factors such as your age, mesothelioma type, or cancer stage. But, you can improve your overall health and elect anti-cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.
In addition to undergoing treatments that control cancer, you should follow a healthy nutrition plan with a well-balanced diet. Good nutrition can also ease treatment side effects and cancer symptoms.
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma
The most effective treatments for mesothelioma include surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy and immunotherapy play a role in multimodal therapy and clinical trials.
Most patients are diagnosed too late to qualify for surgery and only undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy are available for patients at all stages.
Experimental therapies, such as immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy, are available through clinical trials and compassionate use programs.
Cancer therapies are expensive, but many patients are eligible for financial compensation to cover the costs of mesothelioma treatment. Veterans may qualify for free or low-cost treatment at a VA hospital.
A specialized mesothelioma lawyer can advise patients on other possible sources of compensation.
Mesothelioma Prognosis After Chemotherapy
The chemotherapy response rate is nearly 50%. This means about half of mesothelioma patients experience tumor shrinkage or no new tumor growth for a period of time.
A 2016 study published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology found that patients receiving chemotherapy lived an average of 12 months, while those who elected no treatment lived an average of four months.
Mesothelioma Prognosis After Surgery
People diagnosed with stage 1, 2, or 3 pleural mesotheliomas may qualify for aggressive surgery. Tumor-removing surgery offers the greatest opportunity for long-term survival. Surgery can involve the removal of an entire lung, part of the lung, or only the removal of the lining of the lung, known as the pleura.
Many people wonder if a person can live with one lung, and the answer is yes. Surgery is regularly combined with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy or immunotherapy. It can improve survival by years in some patients.
Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma can improve their prognosis with a combination of surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).
It involves adding chemotherapy drugs to a heated saline solution and pumping it directly into the patient’s abdomen. Research shows roughly half of patients who underwent this procedure survived more than five years. DID YOU KNOW?
The average cost of mesothelioma treatment is $11,000 to $12,000 a month.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you and your family get money to cover treatment costs, travel expenses, and more.
Mesothelioma Prognosis After Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy on its own is used to shrink painful tumors growing into the chest wall. This application does not directly impact prognosis.
When combined with other therapies, such as surgery, radiation therapy can help delay or prevent local cancer recurrence.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Type
Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis
The prognosis for patients with pleural mesothelioma — the most common type — is not favorable. Research shows approximately 40% of patients survive at least one year after diagnosis.
Some patients who undergo multimodal treatment and complementary therapies survive several years after diagnosis. About 9% of pleural mesothelioma patients survive more than five years.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis
The prognosis for peritoneal patients is typically favorable when compared to other forms of mesothelioma cancer.
Peritoneal mesothelioma patients survive approximately six to 12 months without cancer treatment. However, the prognosis for surgical candidates is significantly better. About half of peritoneal patients who receive surgery with heated chemotherapy live longer than five years.
Prognosis for Rare Mesothelioma Types
The prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma is generally poor. Around half of patients survive six months. Rare cases of five-year survival have been reported and usually involve treatment including surgery and chemotherapy.
Although testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type, its prognosis is typically the best. Average survival is around two years and some patients live more than a decade.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Stage
Mesothelioma Prognosis at Stage 1
Patients diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma have the best prognosis. Aggressive treatments are recommended to people in otherwise good health.
- Stage 1A: The two-year survival rate is 46% and the five-year survival rate is 16%.
- Stage 1B: The two-year survival rate is 41% and the five-year rate survival is 13%.
- Median overall survival at stage 1 is 22.2 months with surgery.
Mesothelioma Prognosis at Stage 2
Patients diagnosed with stage 2 mesothelioma have a better prognosis than late-stage patients. Aggressive treatment plans are also recommended at this stage.
- The two-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is 38% and the five-year survival rate is 10%.
- Median overall survival at stage 2 is 20 months with surgery.
Mesothelioma Prognosis at Stage 3
Prognosis becomes more unfavorable for patients diagnosed in stage 3. Some stage 3 mesothelioma patients qualify for aggressive treatment plans.
- Stage 3A: The two-year survival rate is 30% and the five-year survival rate is 8%.
- Stage 3B: The two-year survival rate is 26% and the five-year survival rate is 5%.
- Median overall survival at stage 3 is 17.9 months with surgery.
Mesothelioma Prognosis at Stage 4
The prognosis for patients with stage 4 mesothelioma is generally poor. Palliative treatments are recommended at this stage to control symptoms and extend survival as long as possible.
- The two-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is 17% and the five-year survival rate is less than 1%.
- Median overall survival at stage 4 is 14.9 months with treatment.