What to Expect with Mesothelioma Prognosis


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, which is a mineral that was commonly used in building materials, insulation, and other products throughout the 20th century. The prognosis for mesothelioma can be difficult to predict, as it depends on various factors such as the stage of the cancer, the type of mesothelioma, and the patient's overall health. In this article, we will explore what to expect with mesothelioma prognosis.

Factors that Affect Mesothelioma Prognosis

There are several factors that can affect a person's mesothelioma prognosis. These include:

Stage of Mesothelioma

The stage of mesothelioma refers to how advanced the cancer is at the time of diagnosis. Mesothelioma is usually classified into four stages:
  • Stage I - The cancer is localized to one area and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage II - The cancer has spread to nearby structures, such as the diaphragm or lung, but has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage III - The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and other structures, such as the chest wall.
  • Stage IV - The cancer has spread to distant organs and tissues, such as the liver or brain.
Generally, the earlier the stage, the better the prognosis. Treatment options are more likely to be effective if the cancer is caught early.

Type of Mesothelioma

There are three main types of mesothelioma:
  • Pleural mesothelioma - affects the lining of the lungs
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma - affects the lining of the abdomen
  • Pericardial mesothelioma - affects the lining of the heart
The prognosis can vary depending on the type of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type and generally has a poorer prognosis than peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is very rare and has a particularly poor prognosis.

Cell Type

There are three main cell types of mesothelioma:
  • Epithelioid - the most common cell type and generally has a better prognosis than the other two types
  • Sarcomatoid - less common and has a poorer prognosis
  • Biphasic - a mixture of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells, with prognosis varying depending on the proportion of each type

Age and Overall Health

Age and overall health can also play a role in mesothelioma prognosis. Younger patients and those in good health may have a better prognosis than older patients or those with existing health conditions.

Treatment for Mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the stage and type of mesothelioma, as well as other individual factors such as overall health.
  • Surgery - Surgery may be recommended to remove as much of the cancer as possible, particularly in earlier stages of the disease. The type of surgery performed will depend on the location and extent of the cancer.
  • Radiation therapy - Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given orally or through an IV.
  • Targeted therapy - Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific proteins or other molecules that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Treatment can help improve the prognosis for mesothelioma, although it is important to remember that there is no cure for mesothelioma. Palliative care can also help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Prognosis for Mesothelioma

The outlook for mesothelioma can vary widely depending on individual factors. While some patients may have a better prognosis, others may have a very poor prognosis. On average, the survival rate for mesothelioma is relatively low - around 10% to 20% of patients survive for five years or longer after diagnosis. It is important to remember that these numbers are just averages, and every individual case is different. Some patients may respond well to treatment and have a better prognosis, while others may not. It is important to work closely with your healthcare team to understand your individual prognosis and explore all available treatment options.


Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to diagnose and treat, and the prognosis can vary widely depending on individual factors. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, treatment options are available that can help improve the prognosis and manage symptoms. Understanding what to expect with mesothelioma prognosis can help patients and their loved ones make informed decisions about treatment and care.