Asbestos Cancer In Lungs Life Expectancy, Prognosis & Survival

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When you or a loved one is diagnosed with asbestos in the lungs or mesothelioma, one of the biggest questions is about life expectancy. There is not a simple answer to how long you will live with this disease.

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lung lining caused by asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma has no cure. That is why long-term survival is unusual for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. The cancer is usually not diagnosed until it has spread outside the lungs, so treatment is not often useful. (

However, doctors often give a life expectancy when they give an asbestos related lung cancer prognosis. The mesothelioma cancer patient can live longer if:

  • The cancer is caught before it spreads beyond the lungs.
  • The patient is younger.
  • The patient is in good physical condition.
  • They have funds available for medical treatment.
  • They do not have other serious health problems.

One of the most effective ways to boost your life expectancy is to seek care from a mesothelioma physician. These healthcare providers have the experience needed to treat asbestos cancer with the best modern techniques.

But medical care for mesothelioma is expensive and most patients cannot afford the cost on their own. That is why filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can help. The funds that can be won from the company that exposed you to asbestos can be used to treat your disease.

Below is more information about life expectancy if you have been diagnosed with asbestos in the lungs or mesothelioma.

Factors Affecting Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma may develop in the lungs (asbestos lung cancer), abdomen, heart, or testicles, so coming up with a general life expectancy is challenging. Doctors usually examine the following factors to estimate life expectancy.

  • Stage: This is the critical factor in mesothelioma life expectancy. In the first two stages of the disease, cancer has not spread to distant areas of the body. This makes it easier for your doctor to remove tumors. Patients treated in the early stages could live for years. Once the cancer is in mesothelioma stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma, treatment options are much more limited. Patients with stage IV mesothelioma usually do not live more than a year after diagnosis.
  • Age: Your body weakens as you age and takes longer to heal. Older patients have a shorter life expectancy than younger patients. Some treatments are too risky for older cancer victims.
  • Health: Your health history before the cancer diagnosis can help or hurt your life expectancy. If you have serious health problems in addition to cancer, your life will be shorter. Healthier patients respond better to cancer treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy.
  • Site: Some asbestos cancer is simpler to treat than others. Peritoneal or abdominal asbestos cancer is easier to treat than the pleural form. More than 50% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients live for five years. (gov). But pleural mesothelioma patients live five years in only 10% of cases.

Asbestos Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Survival rates give us an idea of the percentage of people with the same type and stage of mesothelioma are still alive after a certain amount of time has passed (usually five years) after they received their diagnosis. Survival rates cannot tell you for sure what your life expectancy is, but it will give you a better idea of how likely your cancer treatments will be successful. (

A relative survival rate compares patients with the same stage and type of pleural mesothelioma with people in the general population. For instance, if the five-year relative survival rate for a certain stage of pleural mesothelioma is 30%, it means that people who have that cancer are 30% as likely as those who do not have it to live for at least five years after diagnosis.

SEER Database

The American Cancer Society obtains five-year survival data from the SEER database that is kept by the National Cancer Institute. The database keeps track of five-year relative survival rates for pleural mesothelioma in the US, based on how far the asbestos cancer has spread. But the SEER database does not group cancers by stages I-IV that most people know. Instead, it groups cancer into localized, regional and distant stages:

  • Localized: Asbestos cancer is only in the pleura
  • Regional: Asbestos cancer spread to nearby tissues and lymph nodes
  • Distant: Cancer has spread to remote body parts, such as bones, liver, or pleura on the other side of the body

Five-Year Relative Survival Rates for Pleural Mesothelioma

  • Localized: 18% five-year relative survival rate
  • Regional: 11% five-year relative survival rate
  • Distant: 7% five-year relative survival rate
  • All SEER stages combined: 9% five-year relative survival rate

Note that the above numbers only apply to the stage of mesothelioma when it is initially diagnosed. They are not applicable if the cancer spreads, grows, or comes back after treatment. Those numbers also do not take all factors into account. Survival rates are based on how far the asbestos cancer has spread, your health, age, mesothelioma type, and how well cancer responds to treatment.

Clinical Study on Mesothelioma Survival Rates

A clinical study was done in 2016 by the University of Maryland Medical Center. It involved 73 asbestos cancer patients, with 19 not having cancer in the lymph nodes. (

Surgery was done on every patient in an attempt to remove the tumors. Photodynamic therapy was used after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy was used on 92% of study patients.

The overall survival rate for all patients was a median of three years. But this figure was almost doubled for the 19 patients that did not have cancer in the lymph system. Patients that had chemotherapy alone lived for 12-18 months, compared to three years for patients who received surgery, chemotherapy, and photodynamic therapy.


Life expectancy with mesothelioma varies from many factors. The most crucial factor is the stage in which you are diagnosed. People in the early stages of the disease live longer, as do patients with the abdominal form of the disease.

Whatever your situation, it is essential to speak to a mesothelioma attorney as soon as you have a diagnosis. You could be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries, which could be vital to getting you the best treatments for your cancer and extending your life.