The prognosis for mesothelioma is generally poor. However, new discoveries and treatments developed in recent years are offering a better prognosis for many mesothelioma patients.
Malignant mesothelioma is extremely aggressive and has a long latency period, which means it usually remains undetected until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. As a result, the prognosis for mesothelioma patients is often unfavorable, with most patients living a year or two after diagnosis.
The good news is that the prognosis for mesothelioma has been slowly improving over the years. This improvement in prognosis is due to the development of experimental treatments, new detection and diagnostic methods, and other areas of research in clinical trials.
- How a disease will progress. A prognosis can be good or bad, and may include a life expectancy estimate.
- Life Expectancy
- How long a patient can expect to survive. This may change with treatment and other developments.
- Survival Rate
- A statistic (percentage or ratio) indicating how many people live a certain amount of time after diagnosis.
Read Survivor Stories
Although mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, there is still hope. Many mesothelioma survivors have become advocates who share their stories to let others know that treatment can work. Read the stories of mesothelioma survivors today.
What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Prognosis?
There are five primary factors that doctors consider when determining a prognosis for mesothelioma patients.
Peritoneal mesothelioma (in the abdomen) has a slightly better prognosis than pleural mesothelioma (in the lungs). Pericardial mesothelioma (in the heart) has a very poor prognosis.
Of the three primary cell types of mesothelioma, epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common and also has a better prognosis than sarcomatoid or biphasic mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma patients diagnosed at an early stage will have a better prognosis than those diagnosed at a later stage. By Stage III and Stage IV, generally only palliative treatments are given to relieve pain and discomfort.
If the mesothelioma has spread to other parts of the body from where it originated (i.e., metastasized), the prognosis is much poorer. Once the disease begins to spread, it is much harder to remove the cancer through surgery or kill it with chemotherapy.
Patients who are relatively young and healthy will have a better prognosis, because their bodies are better able to handle the treatments. Older patients also tend to have other conditions that can exacerbate the disease or limit treatment options.
Prognosis by Mesothelioma Type
The type of mesothelioma, which is determined by the location where it first develops, can have a big effect on the prognosis of the disease.
Improving a Mesothelioma Prognosis
In recent years, research has helped to discover and develop new and more effective treatments for mesothelioma, which has done a lot to improve prognosis. However, advancements have been slow and incremental at best.
Improving Prognosis Before Diagnosis
Perhaps the best way to improve prognosis is to catch mesothelioma early. By using blood tests to identify certain biomarkers – that is, high levels of specific substances in the blood – researchers have had some success at finding new ways to detect mesothelioma early.
The first thing individuals can do is to understand the relationship between mesothelioma and asbestos. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and experience any symptoms of mesothelioma, you should talk to your doctor right away.
Improving Prognosis After Diagnosis
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, improving prognosis depends on the cell type, location, and metastasis of the tumors, as well as the patient’s age, sex, and overall health.
While some of these factors are unchangeable, you can certainly make sure you eat right and exercise regularly. Engaging in holistic practices such as meditation, massage, and yoga can also help alleviate mental and physical stresses, which may improve prognosis as well.
Some treatments have been shown to be more effective than others as well. For example, surgery coupled with HIPEC has been demonstrated to significantly improve the prognosis for some patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. Patients with unresectable tumors (i.e., they can’t be removed through surgery) may benefit from a chemotherapy treatment of pemetrexed, cisplatin, and bevacizumab.
Finally, in some cases, clinical trials can provide a final hope for improving prognosis in some patients. These trials are established as research venues for experimental treatments like immunotherapy, gene therapy, and photodynamic therapy, which offer promising results.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and their Families
- Request a Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
- Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors
- Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center
Mesothelioma Prognosis and Treatment Costs
Mesothelioma treatment costs can be significant, regardless of a patient’s prognosis. Some insurance companies may not cover the costs of diagnostic tests, clinical trials, or other experimental therapies. In many cases, there are related costs such as travel, lost wages, and secondary conditions that need to be paid for, as well.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, consider taking steps to help offset this potential financial burden. Learn about the financial assistance that is available.
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Herndon, James E., et al. “Factors Predictive of Survival Among 337 Patients With Mesothelioma Treated Between 1984 and 1994 by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B.” Chest Journal. 1998;113(3):723-731. DOI: 10.1378/chest.113.3.723 PMID: 9515850
Leuzzi, Giovanni, et al. “Prognostic Score of Long-Term Survival After Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Multicenter Analysis.” The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. September 2015;100(3):890-897. DOI: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2015.04.087
Tanrikulu, Abdullah Cetin, et al. “The Value of New Inflammatory Parameters in Malignant Mesothelioma Prognosis.” Acta Medica Mediterranea. 2015;31(9):9-15.