Survival for Mesothelioma
Survival rates tell you what portion of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (such as 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful. Some people will want to know the survival rates for their cancer, and some people won’t. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to.
What is a survival rate?
Statistics on the outlook for a certain type and stage of cancer are often given as survival rates. For example, the 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. A 5-year survival rate of 50% means that an estimated 50 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. Many of these people live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis.
But keep in mind that survival rates are estimates – your outlook can vary based on a number of factors specific to you.
Cancer survival rates don’t tell the whole story
Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. There are a number of limitations to remember:
- The numbers below are among the most current available. But to get 2-year and 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least several years ago. As treatments are improving over time, people who are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma may have a better outlook than these statistics show.
- These statistics are based on the stage of the cancer when it was first diagnosed. They do not apply to cancers that later come back or spread, for example.
- The outlook for people with mesothelioma varies by the stage (extent) of the cancer – in general, the survival rates are higher for people with earlier stage cancers. But many other factors can also affect a person’s outlook, such as a person’s age and overall health, where the cancer is in the body, what type of mesothelioma it is, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. The outlook for each person is specific to their circumstances.
Your doctor can tell you how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your particular situation.
Survival rates for malignant pleural mesothelioma
The numbers below come from thousands of people from all over the world who were diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), mainly between the years 2000 and 2013. These numbers are only for mesotheliomas that start in the inner lining of the chest (the pleura), which is the most common place for mesothelioma to start.
Here are the 2-year and 5-year survival rates, by stage, for MPM:
- For stage IA cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 46%, and the 5-year survival rate is about 16%.
- For stage IB cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 41%, and the 5-year survival rate is about 13%.
- For stage II cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 38%, and the 5-year survival rate is about 10%.
- For stage IIIA cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 30%, and the 5-year survival rate is about 8%.
- For stage IIIB cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 26%, and the 5-year survival rate is about 5%.
- For stage IV cancers, the 2-year survival rate is about 17%, and the 5-year survival rate is less than 1%.
Along with the stage of the cancer, the outlook for people with MPM can also be affected by other factors. For example, the type of mesothelioma, based on how the cancer cells are arranged when seen in the lab, is important. The epithelioid type tends to have a better outlook than the other types, such as sarcomatoid or mixed (biphasic) MPM. Other factors can be important as well.
Remember, these survival rates are only estimates – they can’t predict what will happen to any individual person. We understand that these statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk to your doctor to better understand your specific situation.