Survival for mesothelioma

Survival depends on different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Doctors usually work out the outlook for a certain disease by looking at large groups of people. Because this cancer is less common, survival is harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. Remember, they can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years.

The NHS, other health organisations, and researchers collect information. They watch what happens to people with cancer in the years after their diagnosis. 5 years is a common time point to measure survival. But some people live much longer than this.

5 year survival is the number of people who have not died from their cancer within 5 years after diagnosis.

Survival by stage

There are no UK-wide statistics available for mesothelioma survival by stage.

1 year survival statistics are available for each stage of mesothelioma in England. These figures are for men and women diagnosed between 2013 and 2017.

Please remember, this doesn't mean you will only live 1 year. It relates to the number of people who are still alive 1 year after their diagnosis of cancer. Some of these people will live much longer than 1 year.

Stage 1

Around 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 2

More than 55 out of 100 people (more than 55%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis.

Stage 3

Around 50 out of 100 people (around 50%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 4

30 out of 100 people (30%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed.

Survival for all stages

Generally for people with mesothelioma in England:

  • 45 out of 100 people (45%) survive their mesothelioma for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • more than 5 out of 100 people (more than 5%) survive their mesothelioma for 5 year or more after diagnosis

What affects your outlook

Your outcome depends on the stage of the mesothelioma when it was diagnosed. This means whether it has spread.

The type of mesothelioma you have also affects your likely survival. People with the epithelial type tend to do better than the other types.

Another factor is how well you are overall. Doctors have a way of measuring this. They call it your performance status. A score of 0 means you are fully active and more or less as you were before your illness. A score of 1 means you can't carry out heavy physical work, but can do everything else. The scores continue to go up, depending on how much help you need.

Overall, the fitter people are, the better they are able to withstand their cancer and treatment.

People with normal haemoglobin levels and normal white blood cell and platelet counts tend to do better. These tests are a measure of your overall health and the effect the mesothelioma is having on you.

Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people with mesothelioma.

More statistics

You can read more statistics on survival rates and other factors for mesothelioma in our Cancer Statistics section.

  • Cancer survival by stage at diagnosis for England, 2019
    Office for National Statistics

  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2017

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (12th edition)
    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2023

  • Presentation, initial evaluation, and prognosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma
    D Sterman and others
    UpToDate, accessed May 2023

Last reviewed: 
18 May 2023
Next review due: 
18 May 2026

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