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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.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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).

Localised disease

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. 

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.

Last reviewed: 
23 Sep 2020
Next review due: 
22 Sep 2023
  • 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

  • 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 (10th edition)
    De Vita VT, Lawrence TS and Rosenberg SA.
    Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2015

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