Life expectancy with mesothelioma will vary from patient to patient, depending on their individual diagnosis. However, once mesothelioma has been diagnosed, patients may be told that they have a year or two to live. By learning more about the factors that influence life expectancy steps can be taken to improve a prognosis.

Life expectancy factors

Mesothelioma life expectancies range on average from 12 to 18 months. However, there are certain factors that can affect this including:

Stage

The exact stage of the cancer, or how advanced it is at the time of diagnosis has the greatest impact on life expectancy. The earlier the cancer is caught the better the prognosis will be. Unfortunately, because early symptoms are so hard to detect most patients are not diagnosed until they have reached advance stages 3 and 4.

Location

The location of mesothelioma, or where it forms in the body, can affect the type of treatment available. Those with peritoneal mesothelioma (affecting the abdominal area) typically have a longer life expectancy, but advances in treatment are helping pleural mesothelioma (lung) patients live longer too.

Cell type

Life expectancy can also vary depending on cell type. Certain cells respond better to treatment than others. For example, tumors made up primarily of epithelial cells usually respond best to treatment and patients with this cell type have a better life expectancy. In contrast, tumors made up primarily of the sarcomatoid cell type or the biphasic (mixed) cell type are more difficult to treat and are often associated with a shorter life expectancy.

How to improve life expectancy

As mentioned previously the life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient is usually 12 to 18 months on average. However, patients can take steps to extend their life expectancy.

Being healthier

Eating healthily and exercising more can help in extending life expectancy. This is because those with a healthy immune system are better equipped to fight the disease, cope with the side effects of treatment and recover from any aggressive surgery.  

Getting treatment

The most important step a patient can take is to seek treatment from a mesothelioma specialist. Early-stage patients are eligible for aggressive treatment options where the ultimate aim is to remove as much of the cancerous area as possible.

Late-stage patients are not usually eligible for aggressive surgery because their cancer has spread too far for surgery to be effective. They can, however, take advantage of emerging treatments offered via clinical trials. New, experimental treatments being developed in clinical trials may hold the key to a cure in the future.