Mesothelioma is a rare and serious type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Each person is an individual, and there are many variables that determine life expectancy, and best treatment for mesothelioma. Below are some statistics that provide helpful information for patients and loved ones to better understand mesothelioma.

Important Mesothelioma Statistics:

  • In the United States less than approximately 3000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed per year.
  • Mesothelioma can take between 20 to 50 years to develop fully, and is often misdiagnosed.
  • Mesothelioma has four stages (1-4).  Stage 1 is the least severe, and stage 4 is the most severe.
  • The most common first symptom of mesothelioma is shortness of breath.
  • There are three major types of mesothelioma, which are grouped depending on the part of the body that is affected.  Pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma are the three primary types.
  • Men are significantly more likely to develop mesothelioma than women.
  • Being over 60 years old increases the risk of mesothelioma significantly.
  • Approximately 10 percent or less of people who have had prolonged, heavy exposure to asbestos develop cancer of the pleura.

Types of Mesothelioma – The Facts

Pleural Mesothelioma

lungsIt is the most common type and accounts for almost three quarters of the diagnoses.

It is characterized by persistent chest pain, persistent dry cough, liquid effusions, difficulty swallowing, general fatigue and weight loss.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Human Digestive SystemIt is the second most common type of Mesothelioma and accounts for up to 20% of the total diagnoses.

Symptoms include; Abdominal pain, general body fatigue, nausea, weight loss, irregular bowels and ascites. It is also known to cause seizures in 1 out of every 10 victims.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

heartIt is the rarest form of mesothelioma and in most cases occurs simultaneously with pleural mesothelioma.

It attacks the mesothilium membrane surrounding the heart. Symptoms include; irregular heartbeat, heart murmurs, chest pain, fever, weight loss, general fatigue and difficulties in breathing.

Causes of Mesothelioma – The Facts

Mesothelioma is solely caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos which is a naturally occurring mineral. Fibers of asbestos can be inhaled or ingested. Once they enter the body, they lodge themselves and it becomes difficult for the body to expel them. They finally end up in the mesothilium membrane surrounding the lungs. This causes Pleural Mesothelioma.

Due to the close relationship of functions between the heart and the lungs, some asbestos fibers in the pleural membrane may be transported to the heart. They then lodge themselves in the mesothilium membrane of the heart leading to Pericardial Mesothelioma. This explains why Pericardial Mesothelioma occurs in conjunction with pleural Mesothelioma. The chances of asbestos fibers being transferred from the lungs to the heart are very slim hence Pericardial Mesothelioma is very rare.

Apart from inhalation, asbestos fibers can also be ingested. Once ingested, they end up in the peritoneal lining of the abdomen. This causes Peritoneal Mesothelioma.

Life Expectancy – The Facts

Life expectancy for mesothelioma patients can be increased by use of various treatment options. However, life expectancy depends on the stage of development.

Patients with fully developed mesothelioma live for an average of 9 months, however some patients are now living 12 months or even longer with advancement in diagnosis and treatment.

Mesothelioma patients who participate in clinical trials and radical surgeries have even reached remission and have improved life expectancy.

Survival Rate

Survival rate is a percentage indicating the number of mesothelioma patients who can survive over a specific period of time. In the past two decades, the survival rate was very low and most patients died within a month of full development of the disease. However with improved treatment methods and equipment, survival rates have grown significantly.

Survival rate is dependent on a number of factors.

Age affects survival rate to a great extent, younger people have a high survival rate as contrasted to older people. Patients diagnosed below the age of 45 have a survival rate of 39.7% for a 5 year period. This survival rate decreases with age to a low 2.7% for patients diagnosed at 75 years and older.

The stage of development at the time of diagnosis greatly affects survival rate. The treatment process is effective during the early stages of development, as the disease develops it becomes difficult to treat.

  • Statistics show that 40% of patients diagnosed below the age of 45 live for 5 years or even longer.
  • Approximately 40% of all patients survive after one year.
  • Approximately 10% of patients survive after three years.
  • Approximately 8% of patients survive after five years.

Mesothelioma Statistics Conclusion

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Many factors determine how it is treated and how long a patient can survive. Being diagnosed early and accurately is extremely important to survival. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, and other non-surgical options.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, let our patient advocates help you get the best care available. If you need free assistance with finding doctors, the best treatment centers, financial assistance, or more detailed mesothelioma information, contact us today. We are here to help.