Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Following a mesothelioma diagnosis, a number of factors are considered when assessing a patient's life expectancy. Factors such as the time it took for a patient to demonstrate symptoms of mesothelioma, the stage of the disease at diagnosis and the recommended treatment plan can have a significant impact on a patient's life expectancy.

Factors Affecting Life Expectancy

Latency Period

The latency period (the time it takes for mesothelioma to manifest following initial asbestos exposure) associated with mesothelioma is generally 20 to 50 years. The long latency period unfortunately often results in a late diagnosis of mesothelioma, allowing the cancer to advance to later stages of development. Once mesothelioma has progressed, treatment can become difficult. Though a cure for mesothelioma does not exist, patients often elect to undergo treatment to increase the quality of life and extend life expectancy. offers a complimentary packet containing information about treatment options and top doctors that may be able to help improve a patient's life expectancy. To receive your complimentary packet overnight, please fill out the request form on this page.

Mesothelioma Type

Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually and the majority of those diagnosed are affected by pleural mesothelioma. Though understanding a patient's stage of mesothelioma is critical when predicting life expectancy, patients with pleural mesothelioma may experience a longer life expectancy because more is known about this type of mesothelioma. The knowledge and resources available to doctors when detailing a treatment plan for pleural mesothelioma patients may help a patient's life expectancy.

Stage of Mesothelioma

Unfortunately, mesothelioma remains a cancer with a notably poor prognosis, with a patient's life expectancy typically ranging between eight and 14 months. The primary reason for this, in addition to the aggressiveness of the cancer, is the diagnosis of mesothelioma at a late stage. Late stage diagnoses often preclude curative therapy, thereby relegating the patient to palliative care, or treatment designed to enhance the quality of life rather than cure the disease. It is generally accepted that patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in stages one and two may have more treatment options available and therefore a longer life expectancy. However, relatively few cases are diagnosed at these early stages and cases diagnosed in stage three and four may experience difficulty responding to treatment.

Tumor Type

Prognostic factors relating to the mesothelioma tumor itself can also provide important information about life expectancy. These tumor-related factors are dependent on the anatomy of the tumor, as well as its biological and histological characteristics. Histological features (the structure of the tissues) are the oldest and most important biological markers, and are strongly correlated with survival. For example, patients with epithelioid types of mesothelioma often experience survival rates up to twice that of those with mixed or sarcomatoid cell types of mesothelioma. This is due to the growth characteristics of mixed type tumors that can interfere with surgical procedures to an extent that surgery is not advised. Mesothelioma patients that survive longer than three years typically have tumors of the epithelioid type.

How to Improve Life Expectancy

Following a mesothelioma diagnosis, many patients wish to fight the cancer in every way possible and extend their life expectancy. Some patients may find success through participating in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are studies conducted to test up-and-coming medications and treatments before they are offered to the general public.

Treating mesothelioma by following a doctor's recommended treatment plan may also offer positive results. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are common treatment options recommended by doctors.


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