Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

How long to live following mesothelioma diagnosis?

Warning: This page concerns many questions asked by family members concerning how long a loved one has to live when diagnosed with a mesothelioma condition.   This page is written by experienced solicitors handling compensation for mesothelioma claims, we are not expert medical practitioners and naturally when reading this article you should be seeking expert medical advice from your GP and consultant.  Do not rely upon any information in this article in respect of medical advice or prognosis. We have referred to many external sources of information in support of this article which you must use with care.

Once you have read this article we would urge you to contact us for professional advice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Life Expectancy and Treatment

We have put together many question and answers in response to queries often asked by our clients and their families. This article is a guide taking various sources into account from various websites and also from our experience dealing with many mesothelioma compensation claims.  For any living mesothelioma clients we will, with urgency, instruct our own independent medical expert to examine the client and provide a report on all aspects of exposure to the asbestos dust, the cause of mesothelioma and life expectancy.

Please be aware that there are also many mesothelioma claims by wives of husbands who washed their work’s clothes that was exposed to asbestos.  Often a wife would shake the clothes or simply by handling them she would be exposed to the asbestos dust.

This often comes as a surprise and shock but there are genuine mesothelioma claims brought by wives who have never worked with asbestos but was exposed to the deadly dust when they washed  their husband’s clothing.

When it comes to mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, understanding life expectancy is crucial for workers and their families. Mesothelioma life expectancy refers to the predicted length of time a person exposed to asbestos dust is expected to live after being diagnosed with this disease.

However, it’s important to note that these estimates are not set in stone and can vary based on several factors.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of mesothelioma life expectancy, including the average life expectancy, factors that influence it, and different types of mesothelioma. So, let’s explore the topic further.

Making a claim for mesothelioma: If you with to make a claim for mesothelioma compensation or wish to find out more on how to claim for mesothelioma for yourself if you were personally exposed to asbestos dust or if a family member has died within the last three years please click on our mesothelioma compensation guide.


A wife with her husband in hospital who has mesothelioma

What is the Life Expectancy When Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?

The average life expectancy for patients with mesothelioma who undergo is around 12-21 months. It’s important to note that this is an average, and individual cases can vary significantly. The life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is influenced by various factors, including overall health, cancer stage, mesothelioma cell type, and response to treatment.

Whilst the prognosis for mesothelioma is frequently bleak due to its late symptomatic manifestation and rapid progression in advanced stages if caught early there may be a longer survival period especially with early detection and advanced treatments.  Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are common treatment options that can extend life expectancy and improve quality of life.

There are approximately 2,500 deaths annually in the UK alone.  It is important for the family to contact us urgently, as specialist mesothelioma solicitors as it will be very helpful to making a claim if we can obtain a work history from a ‘live client’ and to obtain an independent medical examination to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

In general mesothelioma symptoms unfold over time, often remaining latent for decades after asbestos exposure. Lung-related ‘pleural mesothelioma’ indications include

  • chest pain,
  • shortness of breath,
  • persistent fatigue,
  • night sweats,
  • lingering cough,
  • weight loss,
  • clubbed (swollen) fingertips.

Further there may also be abdominal symptoms ‘peritoneal mesothelioma’ individuals may experience;

  • stomach pain,
  • swelling,
  • nausea,
  • appetite loss,
  • bowel irregularities.

These signs, however, rarely surface until many years after exposure to asbestos, some 20 to 40 years plus.  This is known as the latency period.  This is why the vast majority of mesothelioma clients we see are over 60 years of age.

Understanding Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue (mesothelium) covering the organs in the chest and abdomen. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral commonly used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries. As with any form of cancer, the prognosis and life expectancy of mesothelioma patients can vary significantly.

Is Mesothelioma 100% Fatal?

Mesothelioma is considered highly aggressive, and while there are cases of long-term survival, it is generally viewed as incurable. Current treatments aim to extend life and enhance the patient’s well-being, but a complete cure remains elusive.

How is Mesothelioma diagnosed?

Many clients’ mesothelioma diagnosis present with a persistent cough but when mesothelioma is suspected, a series of diagnostic tests becomes crucial. These include a biopsy, X-rays of the chest or abdomen, CT scans for detailed internal images, fluid drainage for analysis, and procedures like thoracoscopy or laparoscopy, allowing the examination of the chest or abdomen with a thin camera. These assessments assist in diagnosing mesothelioma and determining its extent.

Are There Any Survivors of Mesothelioma?

Yes, there are instances of long-term mesothelioma survivors. These cases are often associated with early-stage diagnoses, aggressive treatment plans, and a positive response to therapies. Research and advancements in treatment options provide hope for improved survival rates.

When Will Symptoms Develop After Exposure to Asbestos?

From first exposure to the asbestos dust to symptoms of mesothelioma varies from person to person.  The latency period but typically ranges from 20 to 40 years, making it challenging to pinpoint exactly when exposure occurred. Understanding this latency period is crucial for early detection and intervention and also for mesothelioma solicitor tracing the correct employer to trace and sue for compensation.

How Quickly Does Mesothelioma Progress?

The progression of mesothelioma varies from patient to patient. Factors such as cancer stage, cell type, and overall health influence the speed of progression. Mesothelioma can progress rapidly in some cases, emphasising the importance of early diagnosis and prompt intervention.

Symptoms At End-Stage Mesothelioma

End-stage mesothelioma presents with pronounced symptoms, including extreme fatigue, significant weight loss, and difficulty swallowing. Understanding these symptoms helps in providing appropriate care and support for patients and their families during this critical phase.  In the advanced stages of mesothelioma, symptoms near death may include severe pain, respiratory distress, and a decline in organ function. Palliative care becomes a primary focus to alleviate suffering and enhance the patient’s quality of life during this challenging period.

What are the Root Cause of Asbestos Exposure Causing Mesothelioma

The primary cause of mesothelioma is almost always asbestos exposure, consisting of microscopic fibers prevalent in construction materials. Inhaling these fibers can lead to lung damage over time, with mesothelioma typically emerging more than 20 years or more after exposure. Despite asbestos use being banned many years ago, materials containing asbestos persist in many older buildings, posing a risk of exposure.  They are often found in older houses, public buildings including schools, factories amongst others.  Often clients are surprised that their garage roof is made of asbestos.

Treatment Strategies, Focus on Palliative Care

As mesothelioma is often diagnosed in advanced stages, the emphasis of treatment is on palliative or supportive care.   Many clients will be elderly due to the latent period from first exposure to asbestos (many going back to the 1960’s and 1970’s) to mesothelioma symptoms so often our clients are over 60 years of age.  Mainstream treatments involve chemotherapy, aiming to shrink the cancer, and radiotherapy, employing high-energy radiation to control cancer cells. Surgery may be considered in early-stage detection, though its efficacy remains uncertain. Immunotherapy, stimulating the immune system against cancer cells, presents another avenue, albeit without curative potential.

Government Assistance and Military Mesothelioma Claims

For those exposed who worked for the MOD in the military exposed to asbestos in the UK, government-run mesothelioma assistance schemes may provide compensation, with similar support available for armed forces personnel. These schemes aim to address the financial aspects of dealing with mesothelioma-related challenges, 

What are the factors that an influence life expectancy with mesothelioma?

Several factors can impact a patient’s life expectancy with mesothelioma. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors:

1. Cancer Stage

The stage of mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis plays a crucial role in determining life expectancy. Mesothelioma is typically categorized into four stages, with stage 1 being the earliest and stage 4 being the most advanced. Generally, patients diagnosed at earlier stages have a better prognosis and longer life expectancy compared to those diagnosed at later stages.

2. Mesothelioma Cell Type

Mesothelioma can be classified into three main cell types: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. The epithelial cell type tends to have a better prognosis compared to the other two types. Patients with epithelial mesothelioma often have a more favorable response to treatment and, consequently, a longer life expectancy.

3. Overall Health And Life Expectancy

A patient’s overall health and survival concerning  life expectancy will dependent upon many factors including physical condition can significantly impact their ability to withstand cancer and its treatments. Patients who are in good health, have normal blood counts, and are physically fit tend to have a better prognosis and longer life expectancy. Additionally, age and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, can also influence a patient’s overall health and, consequently, their life expectancy.

Mesothelioma & Life Expectancy by Type

Mesothelioma can occur in different parts of the body, leading to distinct types of the disease. Let’s explore the life. Expectancy for each type:

1. Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type and affects the lining of the lungs. On average, patients with pleural mesothelioma have a life expectancy of about 18 months. However, this can vary depending on the stage at the time of diagnosis. Early-stage patients have better treatment options and a higher chance of longer survival.

Life Expectancy by Stage

The stage of pleural mesothelioma significantly impacts a patient’s life expectancy. Here’s a breakdown of the average life expectancy for each stage:

  • Stage 1: Patients diagnosed at stage 1 have a higher chance of survival, with approximately 60% surviving for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 2: Around 55% of stage 2 patients survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 3: Approximately 50% of stage 3 patients survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 4: Stage 4 patients have a lower life expectancy, with about 30% surviving for 1 year or more after diagnosis.

It’s important to note that these statistics are based on data from England and may vary in different regions.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. This type of mesothelioma has a more favorable prognosis compared to pleural mesothelioma. On average, patients who undergo cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have a life expectancy of approximately 53 months, according to a report in Cancer Management and Research. This combined treatment approach has shown promising results in improving survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

3. Rare Types of Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the protective sac surrounding the heart, is the rarest form of the disease. It has the shortest life expectancy, averaging between 2-6 months. Testicular mesothelioma, another rare type, has a median life expectancy of 72.5 months. Both of these types are relatively uncommon and account for a small percentage of mesothelioma cases.

Improving Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

While mesothelioma is a challenging disease, there are treatment options available that can help improve a patient’s life expectancy. Here are some of the primary treatment approaches


1. Surgery

Surgery plays a crucial role in the treatment of mesothelioma, especially for early-stage patients. Surgical procedures aim to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. Some common surgeries for mesothelioma include:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): This procedure involves removing the affected lung, as well as nearby tissues and organs.
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): Unlike EPP, P/D focuses on removing the lining of the lung and any visible tumors, while preserving the lung itself.
  • Cytoreduction with HIPEC: This treatment is specifically used for peritoneal mesothelioma and involves removing visible tumors from the abdomen and administering heated chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity.
  • 2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy utilises powerful drugs to kill cancer cells and slow down the progression of the disease. It can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. Common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include cisplatin, carboplatin, gemcitabine, and pemetrexed. Recent advancements in chemotherapy have shown promising results, particularly when combined with immunotherapy.

3. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a cutting-edge treatment approach that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer. It works by stimulating the body’s immune response to target and destroy cancer cells. In 2020, the FDA approved the use of immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, offering new hope for patients. Clinical trials are also underway to explore the potential of immunotherapy for other types of mesothelioma.

4. Emerging Treatments and Clinical Trials

Ongoing research and clinical trials are paving the way for innovative treatments and therapies for mesothelioma. These include gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted therapy, and other emerging treatments. While these options are still being studied, they hold promise for improving mesothelioma life expectancy in the future.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment

For patients who are unable to undergo or choose not to pursue aggressive treatments, the average life expectancy without treatment is generally shorter. Pleural mesothelioma patients without treatment have an average survival time of 4-12 months, while peritoneal mesothelioma patients without treatment survive for approximately 6-12 months. It’s essential for patients in this situation to discuss palliative care options with their healthcare providers to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.


Mesothelioma life expectancy is influenced by various factors, including cancer stage, cell type, overall health, and response to treatment. While the average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is around 12-21 months with treatment, individual cases can vary significantly. Early detection, access to specialised care, and advancements in treatment options can help improve life expectancy and provide hope for patients and their families. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s crucial to consult with a mesothelioma specialist to explore personalised treatment options and maximize life expectancy.

Please remember, mesothelioma is a complex disease, and this article should not substitute professional medical advice. It’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personalised guidance and support.

Expert Legal Support For You And The Family

However if a diagnosis has been made with work related mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure you should not suffer in silence.  In addition to medical guidance by medical experts we will instruct, we can also obtain valuable compensation for you and your loved ones.  As solicitor we can also put you in touch with expert will writers and assist with sorting out your financial affairs so you get on with living as best as possible whilst we sort out all of the legal work in the background.

Contact The Mesothelioma Solicitors

Should you be reading this article as a result of the death of a loved one due to a diagnosis of mesothelioma we are sill able to help the family obtain compensation, assist with all the legal matters such as a grant of probate,  inquest and sue the correct defendant employer to obtain some justice for the pain and suffering. Please get in touch now by clicking specialist legal mesothelioma support contact page.


Posted: January 20, 2024 at 4:30 pm