Find out about survival for mesothelioma.
Survival depends on many different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. It depends on your:
- type and stage of cancer
- level of fitness
- previous treatment
These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. Remember, they can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.
Survival by stage
There are no UK wide statistics available for mesothelioma survival by stage. It is difficult to collect data because mesothelioma is rare. Doctors don't always know the stage because accurate staging needs an operation. And most people don't have surgery.
The statistics below are from a study in South East England. The researchers looked at people diagnosed with mesothelioma between 1998 and 2002. Statistics are only available for men. This is because there were not enough women to calculate survival by stage for women. Most of the people in this study had mesothelioma in the chest (pleural mesothelioma).
Men were classified as having either localised disease (stage 1) or non localised disease (stage 2, 3 or 4).
Almost 35 out of 100 men (almost 35%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
Almost 5 in 100 men (almost 5%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
In this study, localised disease means the mesothelioma hasn't grown beyond where it started. It hasn't spread into nearby tissue or elsewhere in the body.
Non localised disease
More than 15 out of 100 men (more than 15%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more.
Only 1 in 100 men (1% ) survive their cancer for 5 years or more.
In this study non localised disease means the cancer has spread beyond where it started. It might have spread into nearby tissue, lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
The epidemiology and treatment of mesothelioma in South East England 1985 - 2002
V Mak and others
Thorax: British Medical Journal 2008, Volume 63, Pages 160-166
These statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.
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
Cancer survival by stage at diagnosis for England, 2019
Office for National Statistics
These statistics are for net survival. Net survival estimates the number of people who survive their cancer rather than calculating the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are still alive. In other words, it is the survival of cancer patients after taking into account the background mortality that they would have experienced if they had not had cancer.
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.
Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people with mesothelioma.
You can read more statistics on survival rates and other factors for mesothelioma in our Cancer Statistics section.