Mesothelioma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with mesothelioma?

It is estimated that about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. Worldwide, an estimated 30,870 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2020.

In the United States, mesothelioma occurs more often in men. It is also more common in White and Hispanic people than in Asian American or Black people. The average age for a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is 72. The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States is no longer increasing, and it is now decreasing slightly in men.

In 2020, an estimated 26,278 people died from mesothelioma worldwide.

What is the survival rate for mesothelioma?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from mesothelioma. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with mesothelioma are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with mesothelioma are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for mesothelioma in the United States is 12% because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage.

The survival rates for mesothelioma vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. People diagnosed at a younger age often live longer. Another factor that can affect outcomes is the type of mesothelioma. People who are able to receive surgery generally live longer than people whose cancer has spread too far to be surgically removed.

If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate for people with mesothelioma is 24%. If the cancer has spread to nearby areas and/or lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 16%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 7%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for mesothelioma cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how mesothelioma is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the National Cancer Institute. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

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