If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue surrounding the internal organs, you're probably wondering what the survival rates are. This form of cancer is aggressive, but there are factors that can improve your prognosis.

 

Types of Mesothelioma

There are four different types of mesothelioma, depending on which organs are affected. The cancer can be located in the lining of the lungs (pleural), the abdomen (peritoneal), the heart (pericardial), or the testicles (testicular). Pleural is the most common form, followed by peritoneal; about 90% of cases are in either the lungs or the abdomen. In general, patients with the peritoneal form have a higher survival rate because of a treatment called heated chemotherapy or intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which allows doctors to administer higher amounts of chemotherapy drugs. Patients with the pleural form have a median survival rate of 12 months, compared to as many as 92 months for peritoneal patients who receive heated chemotherapy. Peritoneal patients who do not receive treatment have a median survival rate of six months.

Types of Mesothelioma

 

Age

The age of diagnosis has a dramatic effect on survival rates. About half of patients who are under 50 when they're diagnosed live for a full year, but only a third of patients over 75 do.

The same is true for longer-term survival rates; about 20% of patients under 55 live for a decade after their diagnosis, but only 1% of patients older than 75 live that long. Patients under 45 have even better odds, with nearly half surviving five years after the diagnosis.

Age

 

Race

There isn't much racial data on this particular form of cancer because about 95% of patients are white. However, while both black and white patients have similar survival rates for the first two years, black patients' long-term survival rate is about twice as high. Only about 7% of white patients survive for five years, compared to about 12% of black patients. At this time, there isn't any information on the survival rates for Asian, Hispanic, or Native American patients.

Race

 

Cancer Stage

Unsurprisingly, patients whose cancer is diagnosed early have a higher survival rate than patients whose cancer is diagnosed later. Unfortunately, many people don't notice symptoms until the cancer reaches Stage III or IV, making an early diagnosis difficult. However, those whose cancer is diagnosed in Stage I have a median survival rate of 21 months, compared to 12 for those who are diagnosed in Stage IV.

 

Gender

Women survive at nearly three times the rate of men regardless of age, location of the mesothelioma, race, or cancer stage. This may be because most cases come from asbestos exposure and men are more likely to have industrial jobs that bring them in direct contact with asbestos, while women are more likely to be exposed from the fibers brought home on their husbands' or sons' clothing or by environmental exposure in a town with high asbestos levels.