Survival statistics for mesothelioma

Survival statistics for mesothelioma are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for mesothelioma and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for mesothelioma is 7%. This means about 7% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by location, stage and cell subtype of mesothelioma

Survival varies with each location, stage and particular cell subtype of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is generally associated with a poor prognosis as it is an aggressive disease.

  • Mesothelioma is usually not found until it is at an advanced stage, which makes it more difficult to treat. Only a small number of people are diagnosed with early stage mesothelioma.
  • Epithelioid cell subtype mesothelioma has a better prognosis than other cell subtypes. This type of mesothelioma is easier to treat and has a longer life expectancy.
  • Sarcomatoid cell subtype has the worst prognosis of the mesothelioma cell subtypes. This type of mesothelioma spreads quickly and does not respond well to treatment.

Survival by stage of mesothelioma is reported as median survival. Median survival is the length of time after diagnosis or the start of treatment at which half of the people with this type of cancer are still alive. The other half will not live as long.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of mesothelioma. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada. The statistics below are for pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma survival


Median survival


21 to 51 months


19 to 26 months


15 to 16 months


8 to 12 months

Peritoneal mesothelioma

There are no statistics available for peritoneal mesothelioma by stage, as this type of mesothelioma does not yet have a staging system. A median survival of 1 year has been reported in people with peritoneal mesothelioma who were given chemotherapy. But this statistic may change with improved treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma.

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Malignant mesothelioma. 2016.
  • Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee . Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 . Toronto, ON : Canadian Cancer Society ; 2019 :
  • Deraco M, Elias DM, Glehen O, Helm CW, Sugarbaker PH, Verwaal VJ . Peritoneal metastases and peritoneal mesothelioma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 115: 1761-1769.
  • Pass HI, Carbone M, King LM, Rosenzweig KE . Benign and malignant mesothelioma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 114: 1738-1760.
  • Raza A, Huan WC, Takabe K . Advances in the management of peritoneal mesothelioma. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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