Mesothelioma is a form a cancer with a notably poor prognosis; mesothelioma life expectancy following diagnosis ranges between eight and fourteen months. The primary reason is the lengthy mesothelioma latency period as well as the fact that early mesothelioma symptoms are indicative of numerous other respiratory diseases as well, often delaying a correct diagnosis. While Stage I or stage II mesothelioma is often potentially curable, Stage III and stage IV mesothelioma is not; such patients are often relegated to palliative treatments to relieve symptoms and restore quality of life.
Mesothelioma prognosis is officially determined by a standard measure known as the relative five-year survival rate. This number indicates how many patients are still alive five years after being diagnosed with the disease. Currently, the relative five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is about 10 percent, a number that is significantly higher than it was a few decades ago. The one-year survival rate has also improved throughout the last 20 years or so and now sits at approximately 40 percent. Nevertheless, the overall mesothelioma survival rate remains poor.
Mesothelioma survival rate varies from patient to patient, with some patients being able to far exceed initial prognosis at diagnosis
However, there are exceptions to the rule and there are some individuals who have defied the normal mesothelioma survival rate. One man, Australian Paul Kraus, has been living with the disease since 1997, designing his own treatment program and shunning traditional medicine. Other mesothelioma victims who have been treated with standard therapies like chemo and radiation have also survived longer than the usual 10-11 months after diagnosis. For example, there are recorded cases of patients with a typical mesothelioma prognosis that beat the odds and survived with the disease for ten years and longer. In two cases (both elderly women), mesothelioma remission occurred for no apparent reason.
It has been difficult for doctors to determine why one patient can survive with mesothelioma for years and others succumb to the disease within a year of diagnosis. Some indicators point to the role of the immune system in fighting the disease; many survivors participated in some sort of treatment that served to enhance their body’s immune system.