Historically, survival rates for mesothelioma are measured in terms of one-year survival. However, many mesothelioma patients are beating the odds and living far beyond median survival rates thanks to advances in treatment.
Additionally, five-year survival for mesothelioma patients has steadily improved since 1999, according to the latest report from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.
Long-term survivors attribute their success to a multidisciplinary approach to treatment from mesothelioma specialists, alternative medicine, clinical trials and nutritional changes.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, mesothelioma life expectancy and survival rates carry different meanings.
Life expectancy refers to the average age a person is expected to live based on the year they were born, where they were born and other demographic factors. An aggressive cancer, such as mesothelioma, can shorten this average.
Survival rates come into play after a person is diagnosed with cancer or another serious health condition. These rates show the percentage of patients in a study or treatment group who are still alive for a certain period of time following a diagnosis.
Researchers describe the mesothelioma survival rate in several ways — usually six-month and one-year survival, but also the percentage of patients who live two years, three years and five years.
Mesothelioma has no definitive cure and most cases are diagnosed in the latter stages, after tumors have spread — a main reason why survival rates are generally lower compared to other cancers.