In general, median life expectancy for mesothelioma ranges from six to 18 months. This does not tell the full story by any means, however. Life expectancy for mesothelioma victims depends on a large number of factors, including the stage of cancer you are currently in, the age at which you were diagnosed with mesothelioma and the type of mesothelioma you have.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma, like all cancers, has stages. The earlier you are diagnosed, the greater your chances for increased survival. If mesothelioma is diagnosed in Stage I, while the cancer is still localized, surgery can remove much of the tumor. Together with chemotherapy and radiation, treatments can definitely extend one’s life span. In Stage II, the mesothelioma has spread beyond the initial point of the disease. There are fewer treatment options in these cases. In Stage III, the mesothelioma has progressed to the point where most treatments would be palliative in nature. By the time a cancer has approached Stage IV,mesothelioma has metastasized, or spread across the body.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is so often difficult to detect in its early stages, making early diagnosis relatively rare.
Age of Diagnosis
Because mesothelioma has such a lengthy latency period, the disease disproportionately impacts people in later stages of life. Generally speaking, the older a person is when he or she is diagnosed, the less favorable his or her chances for survival.
According to the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Cancer Incidence Rates, less than 3 percent of individuals 75 or older with mesothelioma live for five years after diagnosis. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals 45 or younger upon diagnosis have a nearly 40 percent five-year survival rate.
Types of Mesothelioma
While no mesothelioma diagnosis is favorable, certain types of this disease are worse than others. People diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma may often have only five or six months to live. The cellular structure of the mesothelioma can also impact the course of treatment and life expectancy. People diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma generally have reduced life expectancies relative to other types of the disease.
All in all, any number of factors can contribute to a victims mesothelioma life expectancy.