Mesothelioma Surgery Survival Rates & Recovery

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Mesothelioma is cancer that affects the membranes surrounding some of the body’s most essential organs, such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart. The most common type of disease is pleural mesothelioma affecting the lungs. The next most common type is peritoneal mesothelioma in the gut.

Treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Patients who have an earlier diagnosis may be eligible for one or more surgeries to eliminate the visible signs of tumors.

These surgeries can be effective, but there are high risks involved. As you and your physician consider your mesothelioma treatment plan, you probably will discuss mesothelioma surgery survival rates and recovery.

Below is information about survivability that may help you decide if surgery for your mesothelioma is the right choice for you.

Mesothelioma Surgeries and Survival Rates

Overall, mesothelioma survival rates tend to improve after surgeons perform surgery. Successful curative surgery can remove most of the mesothelioma tumors, which can slow its spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).

According to clinical studies, the survival rate for patients who had any mesothelioma surgery doubled from an average of one year to just under two years. A 2018 study of 888 cases found an overall survival rate of 15 months for both pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. (

Below are survival rates for specific mesothelioma surgeries:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): EPP is a surgery for mesothelioma patients that removes the entire lung and all of its protective lining affected by cancer. The surgeon may also take out parts of the lining of the diaphragm, heart, and lymph nodes. (com). Patients with this type of surgery increased their survival rate by up to 27 months. When used with chemotherapy and radiation, survival time may increase to 29 months. Recovery from this surgery takes six to eight weeks for most patients. (
  • Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): P/D removes the lung lining affected by cancer and all visible tumors in the chest. This surgery does not remove the entire lung. The median life expectancy for this type of surgery is 20 months. Like EPP, a P/D can be paired with chemotherapy or radiation. Patients with surgery and radiation have better median survival rates than those with surgery alone. Recovery time averages four to six weeks.
  • Cytoreduction with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC): This surgery is used for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. It is a combination of cytoreductive surgery in the abdomen combined with heated chemotherapy. This treatment offers drastic improvements in survival rates for patients. It improves the median survival rate from just one year to at least five years. Recovery can take six weeks to one year.

What Are the Factors That Affect Survival Rates and Recovery?

There are many factors that affect your mesothelioma surgery survival rate:

Cancer Cell Type

The cell type of asbestos cancer plays a key role in mesothelioma survival rates. Mesothelioma tumors have one of three cell types:

  • Epithelioid
  • Sarcomatoid
  • Biphasic

Survival rates are best with patients who have epithelioid mesothelioma. Those with sarcomatoid mesothelioma have the worst survival rates.

The reason is that epithelioid mesothelioma responds better to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. This has to do with the behavior and shape of the cells, which tend to clump together in tissue. Sarcomatoid cells spread faster and are harder to treat. Biphasic cells contain both types. Patients with more epithelioid cells have better survival rates.

When treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the two-year survival rate for epithelioid mesothelioma patients is 65%, and the five-year survival rate is 27%. Patients with the sarcomatoid type have a two-year survival rate of only 20%.

Cancer Location

Survival rates also vary by location of the tumors. The median survival time for patients with pleural mesothelioma (lung) is one year. But patients who had EPP or P/D surgery may live up to 24 months.

Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma in the abdomen have greatly improved survival rates due to HIPEC surgery. Survival rates have risen from six months to more than five years. A few patients may live for over seven years.

A 2015 study done by Translational Oncology looked at 20 years of data. The study found the five-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma patients was five times higher than that of pleural patients: (

  • 1 year: 73% pleural; 92% peritoneal
  • 3 years: 23% pleural; 74% peritoneal
  • 5 years: 12% pleural; 52% peritoneal
  • 10 years: 4.7% pleural; 39% peritoneal

Pericardial mesothelioma is extremely rare, so there is little data on surgery survival rates. One study reported a patient who had a pericardiectomy lived for 16 months.

Cancer Stage

Stage refers to how far the asbestos cancer has spread or metastasized. The more cancer has spread, the harder it is to treat. Higher surgery survival rates are associated with an earlier diagnosis:

  • Stage 1: 21 months
  • Stage 2: 19 months
  • Stage 3: 16 months
  • Stage 4: 12 months


The five-year survival rates for mesothelioma patients under 45 at diagnosis is 40%. Patients who are diagnosed with the disease over age 65 have a five-year survival rate of only 5%.

But the general health of the patient can have a major effect on the survival rate for any patient.


Women are twice as likely to live five years with mesothelioma as men. Only 6% of men survive five years, compared with 14% of women. The major reason for this seems to be that men tend to work the most in occupations with the most asbestos exposure.

Considerations for Surgery Survival Rates & Recovery

  • Published survival rates may not be indicative of your mesothelioma stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Mesothelioma surgery survival rates are averaged based on the combined outcomes of large numbers of mesothelioma patients. This means a patient who refused treatment or had the worst-case outcome may have dragged down the survival rate. (com)
  • They are only guidelines. Physicians use these statistics as a guideline or tool to develop a mesothelioma treatment plan. They also use them to explain prognosis to a patient and how mesothelioma may affect their quality of life. Survival rates do not take into consideration your personal diagnosis.
  • They are not set in stone. Surgery survival rates can evolve as new mesothelioma treatments are found and older ones are improved.

Speak to your physician about your mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment options They will be able to provide the most accurate information about your prognosis.

Request Mesothelioma Compensation

With over $30 billion available for victims through asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, you are entitled to financial compensations without ever filing an asbestos, lung cancer or mesothelioma lawsuit. You need legal representation to get started. Mesothelioma & lung cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871 immediately.