Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some people want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or might not even want to know them. If you don’t want to read about the survival statistics for mesothelioma, stop reading here.

To get survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least several years ago. Although the numbers below are among the most current we have available, improvements in treatment since then could result in a better outcome for people now being diagnosed with  mesothelioma.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any person’s case. Knowing the type and the stage of a cancer is important in estimating outcome. But many other factors can affect survival, such as a person’s age and overall health, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Even taking these other factors into account, survival rates are at best rough estimates. Your doctor can tell you if the numbers below apply, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

Mesothelioma is a serious disease. By the time the symptoms appear and cancer is diagnosed, the disease is often advanced. Regardless of the extent of the cancer,mesothelioma can be very hard to treat.

5-year survival rate

When discussing cancer survival statistics, doctors often use a number called the 5-year survival rate. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, some people live longer than 5 years.

Relative 5-year survival takes the proportion of people with cancer that have survived 5 years and compares it to the survival expected in a similar group of people without the cancer. This helps adjust for deaths from causes other than the cancer. Based on data from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program, the relative 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is between 5% and 10%. People diagnosed at a younger age tend to survive longer.

Median survival times

The numbers in the table below are from a large international study that looked at the median survival time of patients with pleural mesothelioma who were treated with surgery between 1995 and 2009. Median survival is the length of time it took for half the people in a certain group (like those with a certain type and stage of cancer) to die. It is kind of like an average – half the patients in the group live longer than that and half the patients don’t.

Stage Median Survival
I 21 months
II 19 months
III 16 months
IV 12 months

As a general rule, survival times are likely to be longer for people with mesotheliomas that can be operated on than for those with cancers that have spread too far to be removed. Other prognostic factors, such as those listed in How Is Malignant  Mesothelioma Staged? can also affect survival.

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