Mesothelioma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

It is estimated that about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men. The average age for a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is 69. The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is no longer increasing as it has been in previous decades and may now be decreasing in men.

The 2-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 2 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 2-year survival rate of people with mesothelioma is between 41% and 46%. If the cancer has spread to nearby areas and/or lymph nodes (stages II and III), the 2-year survival rate is 26% to 38%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 2-year survival rate is 17%.

The overall 5-year survival rate for people with mesothelioma is only 10% because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage. If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 5-year survival rate of people with mesothelioma is between 13% and 16%. If the cancer has spread to nearby areas and/or lymph nodes (stages II and III), the 5-year survival rate is 5% to 10%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is less than 1%.

The length of time a person lives after being diagnosed with mesothelioma depends on many factors, including the patient’s age. Patients diagnosed at a younger age often live longer. The type of mesothelioma can also influence survival rates. In particular, some patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have a tumor that grows very slowly and patients with peritoneal mesothelioma often live longer. Patients who are able to receive surgery generally live longer than patients whose cancer has spread too far to be surgically removed.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with mesothelioma are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 2 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 2 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing mesothelioma. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.