Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

The mesothelioma life expectancy, on average, ranges from 12 to 21 months – although many with this disease have lived much longer than this estimation. In fact, by finding the right doctor, qualified for their diagnosis some patients have doubled and even tripled their life expectancies.

Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

What is the Life Expectancy of Someone with Mesothelioma?

The mesothelioma life expectancy, on average, ranges from 12 to 21 months – although many with this disease have lived much longer than this estimation. In fact, by finding the right doctor, qualified for their diagnosis some patients have doubled and even tripled their life expectancies.

Due to the rareness of mesothelioma, many general oncologists are not equipped with the proper knowledge or background to fight the disease successfully.

Exploring treatment options with an experienced specialist is the best way to increase your life expectancy.

Important Factors that Affect a Patient’s Life Expectancy:

  • Cell Type: The speed of disease spread is determined by the type of cells that make up a patient’s mesothelioma. The more common slower spreading cells are epithelioid cells while the rare, fast spreading cells are sarcomatoid cells. The cell biphasic consists of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells resulting in varying life expectancies.
  • Location: The first factor in determining a patient’s life expectancy is determining the location of which the disease has originated from. The most hopeful prognosis is found for those who have peritoneal mesothelioma, located in the abdomen, as their life expectancy often spans for several years. Pleural mesothelioma, located in the lungs, generally has a life expectancy of one or two years. The poorest prognosis tends to be with pericardial mesothelioma which affects the heart.
  • Stage: The advancement of a patent’s mesothelioma can be categorized by stage. The life expectancy of patients with less advanced mesothelioma is more favorable. Early staged mesothelioma has a prognosis near 21 months as opposed to later staged mesothelioma with a prognosis near 12 months.

Explaining the Factors

Different factors can have a significant impact on the life expectancy of a patient. However, by receiving specialized treatment(s) from experienced doctors, these factors that influence life expectancy can be limited.

Cell Type

The cell type of mesothelioma has a strong impact on a patient’s life expectancy. As previously mentioned, the three cell types are the epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. These cell types each behave and respond to treatment differently. During a patient’s diagnosis, doctors determine the cell type of a tumor. The most effective course of treatment can be determined when the cell type has been identified following this diagnosis.

  • Epithelioid Cells: These cells spread very slowly due to their egg shape and their ability to stick together during spreading. As a result of slow spreading, epithelioid mesothelioma offers the best prognosis as it is the most treatable cell type. The range of the average prognosis of an epithelioid mesothelioma patient is between 12 to 27 months.
  • Sarcomatoid Cells: These spindle-shaped cells spread quickly throughout the body, making treatments less responsive due to their speed. The range of the average prognosis of a sarcpmatoid mesothelioma patient is between 7 to 18 months.
  • Biphasic Tumors: These tumors are built on a combination of both epithelioid cells and sarcomatoid cells. The effect a biphasic mesothelioma tumor is determined by the ration of the two cells – resulting in effects on a patient’s life expectancy. The general rule is, the more epithelioid cells results, the better the life expectancy outcome. The range of the average prognosis of a patient with biphasic tumors is between8 to 21 months.
Explaining the Factors
Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma Location

A patient’s life expectancy can be influenced by the location of their mesothelioma. The origination of the tumor – the lining of the abdomen, lungs, or heart – can determine the availability of a patient’s treatment options.

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: This form of mesothelioma originates in the lining of the lungs – specifically, the pleura. The range of an average prognosis for patients with pleural mesothelioma is from 4 to 18 months. However, many doctors typically have more experience treating this type of mesothelioma as it accounts for 75 percent of all diagnosed cases, and therefore provides patients with more life-extending treatment options.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: This form of mesothelioma that is known to have the best life expectancy, also originates in the lining of the lungs – but in the peritoneal. The range of an average prognosis for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma is 12 months, however, numerous studies have shown that some patients have extended their life expectancy by (+)5 years by having cytoreduction with HIPEC.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma: The origination of this form of mesothelioma is in the protective lining of the heart – specifically, the pericardium. It is rare, accounting for approximately 1 percent of all diagnoses. The range of an average prognosis for patients with pericardial mesothelioma is 6 months. Due to the lack of opportunities given to doctors stemming from its rarity, pericardial mesothelioma has limited treatment options.
Life Expectancy

Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.

Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Life Extending Treatment

Emerging Treatments

Life Extending TreatmentWith emerging treatments, doctors attempt to discover a better way of treating patients through clinical trials performed by medical researchers. Unfortunately, if a patient is diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4, they may no longer be qualified for traditional treatments – including EPP or a P/D. However, patients may still benefit from emerging treatments that are being tested in clinical trials by researchers – including gene therapy, immunotherapy, and photodynamic therapy.

Multimodal Therapy

A combination of two or more treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery is known as multimodal therapy. By using more than one treatment, countless patients with mesothelioma experienced an improved life expectancy in any location – peritoneal or pleural.

Various recent studies have shown that pleural mesothelioma patients with EPP combined with both chemotherapy and radiation therapy had a median survival rate of 13 to 23.9 months.

Patients have even experienced a better 30-month survival rate with multimodal therapy – combining P/D with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Another form of multimodal treatment combines cytoreduction with HIPEC. It is a combination of tumor-removing surgery in the abdomen and heated chemotherapy applied directly into the abdominal cavity, which following the procedure kills microscopic cancer cells.


SurgeryThe most effective way for mesothelioma patients to prolong their life expectancy is through surgery. Both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma offer surgical options. If a doctor tells a patient that they are not eligible for surgical treatment, seek another mesothelioma specialist for a second opinion.

Patients with pleural mesothelioma have the option between two surgeries – the extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and the pleurotomy with decortication (P/D). Recent studies have shown that EPP treatments have increased the overall survival rate of patients to around 27.5 months. Similar to the results of the EPP, less invasive procedure for pleural mesothelioma patients, the P/D, have extended the survival rate of pleural mesothelioma patients to about 20 months.

The most effective surgical option for peritoneal mesothelioma patients is cytoreductive surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). With this treatment, patients are reported to have increased their life expectancy to more than 7 years.

Life Expectancy of Mesothelioma Patients

Getting Help with Treatment

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Mesothelioma Symptoms

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms by Type

  1. Pneumonia

  2. Emphysema

  3. Asthma

  4. Bronchial infections

  5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  6. Adenocarcinoma and other lung cancers

  1. Coronary artery disease

  2. Heart failure

  3. Tuberculosis pericarditis

  4. Other heart-related cancers, such as synovial sarcoma

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  2. Crohn’s Disease

  3. Hernia

  4. Ovarian cancer

  5. Other cancers affecting abdominal organs

Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma Stages

A doctor will also determine the stage of mesothelioma as part of the diagnostic process, which determines the origin in the lining of the lungs and describes how far it has spread from that point. This information is significant to doctors when determining potential treatment availabilities. Standard treatment options are more commonly available to patients with stage 1 or stage 2 compared to patients with the later 3 and 4 stages.

The following are the pleural mesothelioma stages:


Within Stage 1, the mesothelioma tumor is generally in one location, and the cancerous cells have not dispersed to lymph nodes or other body organs and tissues. In general, surgical treatment may be an option for eliminating the cancerous growth.



Within Stage 2, the mesothelioma tumor is larger and has probably intruded on surrounding organs, such as the lung or even diaphragm. Lymph nodes could additionally be included. In this case, surgical reapportion might still be feasible, however much more difficult depending on the scope of the growth.


Within Stage 3, mesothelioma cancer has infested a region or perhaps location. Cancer has progressively spread throughout one side of the chest, within the chest wall, esophagus, and additional lymph nodes. Surgical treatment is typically not an option as curative therapy, however various other treatment options may be attempted. 


Within Stage 4, the mesothelioma has dispersed to numerous locations, such as various other organs and tissues throughout the body. Surgical treatment is no longer an alternative, and most treatments at this stage concentrate on minimizing discomfort and pain.