Mesothelioma Prognosis

For those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is often a grim prognosis. However, a patient’s quality of life and life expectancy can be improved when making informed decisions regarding their overall health habits and medical treatment options.

Prognosis of Mesothelioma

A prediction from a qualified physician that suggests the likely result of a patient’s cancer is known as a prognosis. The doctor’s prognosis is based on the statistics gathered from others with both the same diagnoses of cancer and stage of which the disease is at. It is only an assessment, however. While many others have outlived their prognoses there is still the possibility of outliving a prognosis by discussing the topic with a doctor.

Life Expectancy

The estimated amount of time someone will live following a diagnosis is their life expectancy. A median life expectancy suggests that half of the patients are expected to live a shorter amount of time, while the other half is expected to live longer.

Median Life Expectancy for Pleural Mesothelioma Patients by Stage
Median Life ExpectancyMedian Life Expectancy
Stage 121 months
Stage 219 months
Stage 316 months
Stage 412 months
Life Expectancy

Survival Rate

The percentage of people who have survived for a certain period of time following a diagnosis is the survival rate; such rates are generally measured in increments of 1 and 5 years. For example, for pleural mesothelioma, the 1-year survival rate is approximately 38 percent; this means that more than one-third of patients live one year or longer following their diagnosis.
Survival Rates of Patients with Pleural Mesothelioma
Years After DiagnosisSurvival Rate
1 Year38%
5 Year10%
10 Year4%
Mesothelioma Prognosis

Mesothelioma Prognosis Terminology

The following three regulated terms (prognosis, life expectancy, and survival rate) are used by medical professionals to discuss prognosis; although similar, they are not interchangeable.
Mesothelioma Prognosis
Defining Mesothelioma Prognosis

What does Prognosis mean?

The terms “diagnosis” and “prognosis” are commonly confused. The medical classification of a disease is a diagnosis, while the likely outcome of a disease, similar to a forecast of how the disease can affect an individual, is a prognosis. A prognosis of mesothelioma is not usually favorable, although it is dependable on the stage of cancer and numerous other factors.

Some factors are beyond control, such as the age, cell type, gender, and stage of cancer. However, patients do have potential control to positively influence their prognosis by modifying certain factors. By selecting treatments, following expert advice, and improving their overall health many patients have lived well beyond their initial life expectancy.

What are Biological Factors?

Biological Factors

Certain factors in a patient’s prognosis – including their age and gender, specifications of their blood characteristics, type of cancer cell present, and the stage at which a patient is at – are unchangeable.


The prognosis is typically more favorable for younger patients as the aggressive therapies that are used to treat cancers are better handled by their immune systems. The general physical health and fitness of younger people is usually better than that of older people which may be more beneficial during recovery from cancer treatment(s).

While 43 percent of patients (younger than 45) survived five years after diagnosis, only 5.7 percent of patients (65 years of age or older) reached the same point; according to statistics, age makes a difference.


Women with pleural mesothelioma have a better prognosis compared to men with pleural mesothelioma. It is suspected by researchers that hormonal differences can play a role in better treatment for women.

A data review from the National Cancer Institute shows that the 5-year survival rate for women is nearly three times higher for men.

Blood Characteristics

A prognosis may be impacted by specific biomarkers found in blood. Such biomarkers that have varying implications towards prognoses include COX-2, fibulin-3, MIB-1, platelet counts, and white blood cells (WBC) – for instance:

  • The growth of cancer could be indicated by high levels of the biomarker mesothelin. Although markers vary with each patient they could play a key role in optimizing treatment plans for individuals one day.
  • High levels of COX-2 protein may imply longer life expectancy.
  • Low blood cell counts suggest that the cancer affects the body, which could have a negative effect on the prognosis.

Cell Type

Unlike sarcomatoid cells, which easily spread apart, epithelial cells stick together more closely. Consequently, the favored prognosis is carried with mesothelioma of the epithelial cell type as it responds better to treatment than sarcomatoid cells.

A combination of the two are known as biphasic cells. The prognosis with this cell type depends on the present cell ratio – if there is a higher epithelial cell count, there is likely to be an improved prognosis.

Cancer Stage

The progression of cancer is determined with the help of staging. In stages 1 and 2, the cancer is localized and small, while in stages 3 and 4, the cancer has dispersed to other parts of the body and grown.

The tumors that are localized and small are more easily extractable with surgery and shrinkable with chemotherapy and radiation therapy; resulting in a better prognosis.

While tumors that have dispersed are much harder to operate on, larger tumors do not respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well anymore.

nutritious diet
How to Improve Prognosis

5 Steps That Can be Taken to Improve Prognosis

Efforts to improve your lifestyle and health can improve your prognosis, increasing your life expectancy. Keep in mind that every day counts. Do not delay – seek out potential pleural mesothelioma treatments by qualified professionals that will help in the decision making in your care or the care of a loved one.

Care for Your Overall Health

Having good overall health and physical fitness can assist in a stronger endurance of the side effects. The healthier a patient is, the better their body can fight against the cancer allowing them to live a better life.

  • Contact an oncology nutritionist that can recommend specific dietary changes to both benefit and strengthen your body.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fats and sugars to boost your immune system.
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water.

Becoming more active when you are up and receiving better rest when you experience down time are additional lifestyle changes that can improve a prognosis.

  • Discover simple ways to get regular light exercise.
  • To keep your mind engaged, do things you enjoy.
  • To assist your body during recovery from treatment, get plenty of quality sleep.
  • If you are a smoker, lung functions and overall health can be improved by quitting immediately.
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Clinical Trials

Consider Participation in Clinical Trials

New and emerging treatment options are tested in clinical trials. Thanks to the work of researchers, many participants have not only had an improved prognosis, but also reached remission. Dozens varying pleural mesothelioma clinical trials for patients in different phases at multiple trial sites across the United States are maintained in a list by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Many of these new chemotherapy drugs, clinical trials test new combinations of drugs, and/or new combinations of drugs with other forms of treatments.

The efficiency of experimental techniques – including immunotherapy, nutritional therapy, photodynamic therapy, and viral therapy, are tested in other clinical trials

Consider Participation in Clinical Trials
Established Treatments

Learn About Established Treatments

By selecting cancer treatments, pleural mesothelioma patients are able to improve their prognosis. However, the type of tumor cell, overall health, and stage at which a patient is diagnosed are all dependable factors that can have some effect on the prognosis.

The multimodal approach is beneficial for patients with epithelial cell types and early stage tumors. This approach entails of a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Although each of these treatments can alleviate symptoms on its own, combinations of each can correspond to better life expectancies compared to any singular treatment. Not everyone qualifies for this aggressive approach, however.

Pleural Mesothelioma Median Survival Period According to a 2011 Study

With Surgical Treatment 710 days
Without Surgical Treatment 288 days

The goal of palliative treatments is to alleviate symptoms of cancer and improve quality of life, which is generally the most beneficial action for patients with late-stage pleural mesothelioma. Although palliative treatments assist with pain and discomfort reduction, they can also extend survival.

Reduce Your Stress

How an individuals’ body responds to cancer treatment can be reliant on their overall health, so leading a low-stress lifestyle could be immensely beneficial. Make note of any stressors and determine what can be done to manage them in order to reduce anxiety or frustrations that you or a loved one may experience.

  • Clear the responsibilities off of the plate; partake in more activates you enjoy and spend time with loved ones.
  • Take steps to receive the emotional support that may be needed. Reach out to loved ones, meet with a mental health counselor, or join a support group.
  • Quality of life may be improved further with CAM which is short for complementary and alternative medicine. CAM therapies come in an extensive variety — some are as simple as working alongside a personal trainer to design an exercise plan and a special diet, while others are based on spiritual belief systems that deal with mind-body connection and energy fields. Whatever therapy may be chosen, whether acupuncture, massage, and/or meditation, to ensure no interference with medical treatments, it is most important to be honest and open with you doctor.