Each year, about 3,000 people living in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Additionally, nearly 2,500 people die of mesothelioma in the country each year. Here's everything you need to know about the survival rates of this form of cancer.
Mesothelioma Survival Rates Explained
To understand mesothelioma survival rates, let's first define the term 'life expectancy.' This phrase refers to the number of years an individual is expected to live based on multiple factors such as age, gender, quality of life, demographics, etc.
Unfortunately, the life expectancy of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma is quite low.
A study conducted in 2015 examined the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients between 1992 to 2012. The study specifically focused on the five-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma and compared the results to those of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
What Is Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare yet aggressive cancer that targets the peritoneum, a lining found in the abdomen. This cancer occurs when an individual ingests asbestos fibers. Its symptoms can take between 10 to 50 years to appear.
What Is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is cancer that targets the lungs and chest. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos, especially among individuals working in automotive, construction, insulation, mining, plumbing, and other related industries.
Back to the study, the five-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma was 12 percent. The study also discovered a 52 percent survival rate for individuals diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma over the same five-year period.
The research further concluded that at least 73 percent of individuals diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma survived the first year after diagnosis. On the other hand, 92 percent of individuals diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma lived past the first year after diagnosis.
When comparing the survival rate over a 10-year period, the study concluded that only 4.7 percent of individuals diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma survived. In addition, only 39% of individuals diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma lived for more than ten years after diagnosis.
Factors That Determine Mesothelioma Survival Rates
Different factors determine the survival rate for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma. Here is a quick look at the most common ones.
The Location of the Tumor
Mesothelioma falls into four different categories, depending on the target location in the human body. They include:
Pleural Mesothelioma: This is the most common type of mesothelioma. As mentioned before, it targets the tissues surrounding the lungs and chest. About 70 to 75 percent of diagnoses involve this type of mesothelioma.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma: This mesothelioma is not as fatal. But unfortunately, it only accounts for about 10 to 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
Pericardial Mesothelioma: This mesothelioma targets the pericardium, a lining found in the heart. It is a very rare type of cancer and accounts for about one percent of all cases.
Testicular Mesothelioma: Targeting the external lining of the testicles, also known as the tunica vaginalis, this is the rarest type of mesothelioma. It makes up less than one percent of all cases in the United States.
Stage of Mesothelioma
The stage of mesothelioma diagnosis also determines how long the patient will live with the cancer. In most cases, individuals with stage one and two mesothelioma live longer. This is because it is possible to manage the cancer at these two stages through surgery and other treatments.
On the other hand, individuals diagnosed with stage three and four mesothelioma usually have the lowest survival rate. Unfortunately, this diagnosis is usually common among individuals with pleural mesothelioma, which is often the deadliest.
Most individuals with pleural mesothelioma have a lower life expectancy because the cancer is usually detected long after it has grown and attacked other parts of the body. This makes it even more challenging to manage.
Mesothelioma has three cell types, namely:
This is the most common mesothelioma cell type. It is also the least aggressive and has the best response to treatment. Most individuals with this cell type live between 12 to 24 months after diagnosis.
This is the most aggressive type of mesothelioma cell. On average, individuals with sarcomatoid cell types live between six to eight months.
This cell type combines epithelioid and sarcomatoid features. Individuals with these biphasic cells usually have a 13-month survival rate.
According to the study, at least 95% of mesothelioma patients are white. In addition, the survival rate for white individuals within a five-year period stands at 7.8 percent compared to 12 percent for non-white patients.
The 2015 study also examined the survival rate based on age. It concluded that:
- about 52 percent of individuals aged 50 and below survived the first year after diagnosis;
- around 51.1 percent of individuals aged between 50 to 64 survived the first year after diagnosis;
- for individuals aged between 64 and 74, only 40.9 percent survived past the first year, and, lastly;
- only 28.5 percent of individuals aged 75 and above survived past the first year of diagnosis.
The research further discovered that men were at a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma than females. This is mainly because men have a higher chance of working in high-risk areas, such as industrial jobs, than women.
The survival rate for men was significantly lower than that of women. Over a five-year period after diagnosis, the study revealed that only 5.9 percent of men survived mesothelioma. On the other hand, only 16 percent of women survived the first five years.