Life expectancy

Median life expectancy for mesothelioma patients usually ranges from 12 to 21 months, depending on the stage of the disease at diagnosis, with approximately 40 percent of patients living beyond one year and 20 percent living beyond two years.

Mesothelioma cancer is an aggressive malignancy whose symptoms typically don’t manifest until later stages. Therefore, life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is generally short.

Long-term survival is extremely rare, with fewer than 10 percent of patients living beyond 5 years. Life expectancy varies greatly from patient to patient based on a number of individual factors and circumstances.

While treatment is available for most patients, doctors and cancer specialists will typically reserve aggressive therapies for those patients whose life expectancy is truly anticipated to be extended through these methods. Treatment for patients in the advanced stages of the disease is usually palliative rather than curative.

While a mesothelioma patient’s life expectancy is innately tied to prognostic and histopathological factors, a patient’s eligibility to undergo aggressive treatment is also tied to his or her ability to manage the side effects associated with these therapies. In some cases, patients who integrate holistic therapy and alternative methods of cancer treatment into traditional therapy regimens have lived beyond their original prognosis.

Though life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is still relatively short, it has steadily increased in recent years as a result of more funding being dedicated for mesothelioma research and scholarship. Improved methods of detection and innovative treatments provide hope that life expectancy will continue to improve, and participation in clinical trials can give patients access to new and experimental methods of fighting the disease.

Factors that contribute to an educated assessment of mesothelioma life expectancy are:


Generally speaking, older mesothelioma patients have a shorter life expectancy. This is due in part to the relationship between a patient’s age and their overall health, the extent of the disease, and their eligibility for aggressive treatment. In a study of 167 mesothelioma patients, those diagnosed at the age of the 65 years and younger had a median life expectancy of 359 days. Those diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 74 years had a medial survival period of 242 days. Patients over the age of 75 diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma had a median life expectancy of 112 days.


Because the disease has not spread extensively in stage I and II, an early diagnosis can improve life expectancy. By the time the disease reaches stage III and IV, it has progressed beyond the point of origin and other factors begin to affect patient timetables. For this reason, improving methods of mesothelioma detection and diagnosis are crucial to extending life expectancies.

Life expectancies for patients in each stage are as follows:

  • Stage I: 21 months
  • Stage II: 19 months
  • Stage III: 16 months
  • Stage IV: 12 months