Mesothelioma Life Expectancy & How to Improve Life Span

Mesothelioma life expectancy is a doctor’s estimate of how long a patient can expect to live after a mesothelioma diagnosis. The average life expectancy of mesothelioma is 12-21 months. However, many people live longer than this depending on the type of mesothelioma, the stage of the disease, and overall health. Doctors work with patients to improve their life expectancy through personalized treatment plans.

The average life expectancy of mesothelioma patients isapproximately 12-21 months andvaries depending on factors such as the patient’s overall health, the stage of the disease, the type of mesothelioma cells, and the type of mesothelioma the patient has.

Mesothelioma life expectancy, which is the predicted length that a patient is expected to live after being diagnosed, is part of the general prognosis of mesothelioma patients.

Surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments can extend a mesothelioma patient’s lifespan by several months or even years. Your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment plan that gives you the best shot for longevity.

Life Expectancy vs. Safety Standard

When giving patients their prognosis, doctors can also tellthe survival rate of mesothelioma, which is the percentage of people who are still alive after a certain time. For mesothelioma patients, this rate is usually offered for 1-, 3-, or 5-year extensions.

A 2017 literature review studied thousands of mesothelioma patients and found a 1-year survival rate of 54%.

On the other hand, life expectancy may refer to a group of people or an individual patient and is usually given a certain amount of time the patient is expected to live after diagnosis. For mesothelioma patients, this time is usually measured in months.

Living with mesothelioma can be difficult. Follow our free cancer treatment plan to keep track of appointments, medications, symptoms, and more.

Life Expectancy of Pleural Mesothelioma

Patients withpleural mesotheliomacan expect to live about 1-2 years after diagnosis. However, the stage at which it is diagnosed can affect life expectancy significantly.
Stage 1 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma patients who undergo surgery have amedian life expectancyof22.2 months.

Stage 1 mesothelioma is in the lining (pleura) of one lung, giving doctors the best chance of removing the tumor with life-prolonging surgery and other treatments such as chemotherapy.

Stage 2 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Stage 2 pleural mesothelioma patients who receive surgery have a median life expectancy of 20 months.

During stage 2 mesothelioma, the tumor remains on one side of the body but has begun to spread beyond the lining of the lung to deeper tissues and nearby lymph nodes. Life-prolonging surgeries are often still available.

Stage 3 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients who undergo surgery have a median life expectancy of 17.9 months.

In stage 3 mesothelioma, the cancer has spread significantly to the lung tissue and the surrounding area. It is located in nearby nodes. Some otherwise healthy patients may still be eligible for life-sustaining surgery, but most treatment options are natural.

Stage 4 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

The median life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma is 14.9 months with treatment.

When a patient has stage 4 mesothelioma, the tumor has spread to the other side of the chest and to distant parts of their body (metastasis).

Most treatments at this stage aim to alleviate symptoms, although chemotherapy, clinical trials, and/or other treatments may still help some patients survive.

Life expectancy as a stage

StageLife Expectancy
Stage 122.2 months
Stage 220 months
Stage 311.9 months
Stage 414.9 months

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is approximately 51.5 months.

Patients who are candidates for aggressive cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have a median survival of 53 months.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can be vague, making the disease difficult to diagnose early. However, peritoneal mesothelioma tends to spread more slowly than other types, is more difficult to treat because it is not close to vital organs, and it tends to remain in the abdomen even after when it metastasized.

Download our free Questions to Ask Your Doctor Checklist to make sure you get all the answers you need during your mesothelioma specialist appointment.

Life Expectancy for Rare Types of Mesothelioma

Life Expectancy in Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma has the shortest life expectancy of all types, with an average of6 months. That said, it is extremely rare, making up less than 1% of all mesothelioma cases.

Most cases of pericardial mesothelioma are not diagnosed until after an autopsy. When a patient receives a diagnosis of this cancer, it is usually advanced. This, and the location of the cancer near the heart, makes it difficult to treat.

Life Expectancy of Testicular Mesothelioma

The median survival time for testicular mesothelioma after surgery is about 23 months. With only a few hundred cases ever reported, testicular mesothelioma is often diagnosed while undergoing surgery and is mistaken for a hernia.

On average, the cancer returns in 1 in 10 patients who receive an orchiectomy (removal of the testicle and any nearby cancerous tissue) before the cancer spreads.

Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

With so many factors affecting life expectancy, it can be difficult for a mesothelioma specialist to predict how long a patient will live. However, several important factors have a particularly strong influence on life expectancy.

Type of Mesothelioma

Each type ofmalignant mesothelioma develops in a different area of ​​the body, and some areas are more difficult to treat than others. On the other hand, the type of mesothelioma a patient develops can greatly affect life expectancy.

For example, patients with pericardial mesothelioma (which affects the lining of the heart) have the lowest life expectancy, while patients with peritoneal mesothelioma (which affects the lining of the abdomen) have the highest.

Cell Type

Mesothelioma is divided into three main types of mesothelioma based on how the cancer cells look and behave.

The type of cancer cells (epithelial mesothelioma cells, biphasic cells, or sarcomatoid cells) that make up a patient’s mesothelioma tumor can have a significant impact on the patient’s life expectancy.

The lifespan of a cell type

Cell TypeLife Expectancy
Epithelioid12-24 months
Sarcomatoid6 months
Biphasic12 months

Cancer stage

Malignant mesothelioma is the only type that has been studied well enough to be classified using a formal classification system. However, usually, the earlier a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the longer they can expect to live.

The stage of mesothelioma diagnosis can affect life expectancy because early stage patients are candidates for life-prolonging surgery. In addition, early stage mesothelioma is far from metastasis.

Unfortunately, about two-thirds of mesothelioma patients are diagnosed after the cancer has advanced.

Other Life Expectancy Factors

Mesothelioma life expectancy may be affected by many factors beyond the characteristics of the patient’s cancer. Various studies have shown that the characteristics of the patients themselves can affect life expectancy – sometimes significantly.

Other life expectancy factors for mesothelioma include:

  • Age: Mesothelioma patients younger than 45 tend to have the longest life expectancy after diagnosis.
  • General health: Mesothelioma patients who are in good health and do not smoke tend to have an average lifespan. These types of patients are better suited for life-sustaining surgeries and tend to stay healthy longer.
  • Sex: Women with mesothelioma are consistently shown to live longer than their male counterparts. This may be because men tend to have more asbestos exposure or because women tend to develop the disease at a younger age. Some studies have also indicated that estrogen may play a role.

Treatment from an experienced oncologist may help improve the life expectancy of mesothelioma. Use Mesothelioma Doctor Match for free to find a specialist near you.

Treatment To Improve Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

One of the best ways that patients can improve their lifespan by months or even years is to work with a specialist at a top mesothelioma cancer treatment center.

These centers employ highly experienced doctors who can perform mesothelioma treatment options that are not available at all cancer centers.

Most mesothelioma doctors agree that combining more than one treatment (called combination therapy) is the most effective way to increase survival time. In fact, the best results of chemotherapy are now obtained when combined with surgery, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Learn more about mesothelioma treatment options below.


When mesothelioma is diagnosed at an early enough stage and the patient is otherwise fit, doctors often recommend mesothelioma surgery to physically remove most of the cancer. Surgeons generally pair surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Surgery to improve life expectancy includes:

For patients diagnosed too late to undergo curative surgery, mesothelioma chemotherapy is usually the first line of treatment.


Mesothelioma chemotherapy is another treatment option that aims to improve mesothelioma’s life expectancy after diagnosis.

Chemotherapy is given in cycles and focuses on killing cancer cells, shrinking tumors, and preventing the growth of new cells.

There are several chemotherapy drugs that are given intravenously, such as cisplatin, pemetrexed, carboplatin, gemcitabine, and others.

To treat peritoneal mesothelioma, many specialists will use chemotherapy drugs to cover the abdomen and kill the remaining cancer cells after performing cytoreductive surgery.

Emerging Medicines

Mesothelioma clinical trials are controlled research studies to develop and improve emerging therapies such as gene therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Medical advances made in these trials give mesothelioma patients, especially those with late-stage cancer, opportunities to increase their life expectancy.

The latest breakthrough in mesothelioma clinical trials \is the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of a combination of immunosuppressive drugs. In October 2020, the FDA approved nivolumab and ipilimumab (OPDIVO® and YERVOY®) to treat pleural mesothelioma after they proved effective in increasing life expectancy.

Life Expectancy Without Medicines

The average survival of cancer patients who do not receive mesothelioma treatment is about 12 months. Some mesothelioma patients choose or qualify to receive only palliative care, which is designed to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Patients who are not eligible for or do not wish to undergo aggressive treatment are encouraged to discuss their options with their oncologists and care team.

Find a Mesothelioma Specialist Near You

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, many patients may wonder how they can improve their prognosis.

Treating mesothelioma as soon as possible gives patients the greatest chance of prolonging their life. To get this treatment, work with a mesothelioma doctor who has experience in making different treatment options and knowledge about clinical trials.

Getting the right cancer treatment, being active, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest can help improve your life expectancy and overall quality of life.

If you or a loved one is interested in pursuing mesothelioma treatment, use free Mesothelioma Specialist program to find a specialist near you.

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