The length of time one can survive with mesothelioma depends on a variety of factors, and each person's battle with this pernicious disease is unique. A diagnosis of mesothelioma has long been associated with pessimism and a low chance of effective treatment, but exciting developments in research are giving new hope for survival.
Individual factors that influence mesothelioma prognosis include age, cancer stage (when diagnosed), overall health, diet, and mesothelioma cell type.
In general, almost 50% of people survive their mesothelioma for at least one year after diagnosis. The survival statistics dwindle to 5% surviving more than 5 years. The American Cancer Society explains that survival rates are based on previously reported outcomes from large numbers of people (though mesothelioma is a rare disease), but they do not necessarily take into account recent advancements in treatment and disease management.
In a review of the median survival time of patients with pleural mesothelioma who were treated with surgery between 1995 and 2009, patients diagnosed with Stage I disease was 21 months, while Stage IV disease was 12 months.
The prognosis for those diagnosed early with peritoneal mesothelioma is slightly better than other forms of the disease. Unfortunately, most patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma present with late-stage disease that may hamper treatment. Malignant ascites and invasion of primary organs cause a significant amount of the peritoneal mesothelioma deaths. A lack of understanding of peritoneal mesothelioma's carcinogenic and resistance mechanisms has hampered the development of effective treatments.
The good news is that survival durations are improving with increased knowledge and research into this disease.