After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, survival rate and life expectancy are sure to be among your most immediate and pressing concerns. You should be sure to ask as many questions as necessary of your physician and medical care team exclusively-especially regarding information about your individual prognosis, which relies on many individualized factors specific to you and your illness.
To gain some general knowledge about what to expect when evaluating a mesothelioma patient’s outlook, as well as the baseline statistics that influence clinical expectations, please refer to the Q & A section below:
Common Questions and Answers
Q: How many people die from mesothelioma in the U.S. every year?
A: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, even with the rapid and drastic increase in the rate of occurrence that has manifested in the decades following the asbestos boom of the 20th century. Asbestos is the number-one cause of mesothelioma, directly linked in at least 90 percent of all cases. With the strict government regulation of asbestos in the U.S., mesothelioma is expected to all but disappear in the latter part of this century.
Around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States each year. The projected death toll over the next decade is approximately 30,000, which divides out as one life lost every 3.5 hours.
Q: What is the average survival rate for patients with mesothelioma?
A: The mesothelioma survival rate past the one-year mark is low. Typical mesothelioma life expectancy ranges between four and 18 months, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The number of survivors at five years post-diagnosis is poor, falling somewhere between five and ten percent.
The ASCO reports that current survival rates are seen to be decreasing, which is a reversal of the noted increase in survival rates observed over the past few decades. It should be noted that mesothelioma is considered a terminal illness with no known cure-best-case scenarios involve prolonged remission, but no one on record has ever been effectively “cured” of mesothelioma.
Q: How will my projected life expectancy be determined?
A: Doctors use many different individual factors relevant to a patient’s diagnosis to determine what his or her treatment outlook could reasonably be. They then use statistical data on the mesothelioma survival rate of patients with similar clinical presentations to make an informed estimate about what can be expected in your individual case. This called a prognosis.
Factors, which contribute to individual mesothelioma prognosis, include:
- Stage of cancer (early > late)
- Location of cancer (pleural > peritoneal and pericardial)
- Cell type of cancer (epithelial > sarcomatoid and biphasic)
- Age of patient (>70 is considered a plus)
- Gender of the patient (females > males)
- Physical health of the patient at the time of diagnosis*
*includes specific factors such as smoker/non-smoker status