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5 Key Influences on Mesothelioma Survival

Date: July 03, 2024

Reviewed and edited by David Halpern

Mesothelioma has a dark prognosis. The survival period is short after diagnosis and estimates a less than 18% chance of survival in five years. Although most cases end in death, it is not impossible to survive through mesothelioma. The rare form of cancer can present symptoms in the lungs, chest, heart, or testicles and can give insight into the type of treatments available. To understand this further, it is important to note the factors that influence survival.


Mesothelioma has a latency period that can take decades to show symptoms. The latency period measures the time of diagnosis from the onset of showing symptoms. This provides victims a duration of “20 to 30 years after asbestos exposure” (“How Long Does an Asbestos Disease Take to Develop?”). Asbestos exposure is recognized to be the most common cause of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, and Penn Medicine reports that “Up to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases result from primary exposure”. Given these factors, the average age of pleural mesothelioma, the most common type making up “about 80% of all mesotheliomas” (Thomas et al.), is roughly 72. This can influence the type of treatments available because it might be too late and difficult to engage in surgery to remove the tumor.

Type of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that “begins in the lining of different internal organs of the body” (“Mesothelioma – Introduction”). The different organs affected present different symptoms and some occur more frequently than others. When the mesothelial tissue around the lungs is impacted, it is recognized as pleural mesothelioma. This is the most common type and “Approximately 75% to 80% of mesotheliomas begin” in this location(“Mesothelioma – Introduction”). The symptoms often include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and difficulty swallowing. The next most common type occurs in the tissue lining of the abdomen, medically recognized as peritoneal mesothelioma, which makes up roughly 8% of all cases. These symptoms can include stomach pain, nausea, and unexplained weight loss(Raeke). Lastly, there are rarer forms of mesothelioma that can occur in the lining of the heart, pericardial mesothelioma, or lining of the testicles, testicular mesothelioma. These types make up less than one percent of all cases.


Penn Medicine discovered that “About 12 percent of mesotheliomas occur in people who have genetic changes”. The BAP1 gene is a type of tumor that increases an individual’s risk of developing cancer. The National Library of Medicine discovers that the BAP1 gene “predisposes the patient to UM, malignant mesothelioma”. While this only makes up “About 1% of people with mesothelioma” (“Mesothelioma – Risk Factors”), it is important to get tested if there is a previous history of mesothelioma diagnosis in the family.


As asbestos was heavily used in the Industrial Revolution, and women were only beginning to enter the workforce in places like textile factories, men were occupationally exposed to more asbestos. This influences the likelihood of diagnoses in men and in a study of less than 400 patients, “82% of patients were male and 18% were female” (Senek et al.). In addition to this, men are additionally more likely to have a shorter survival period compared to women. The National Library of Medicine further supports this claim by explaining that women who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have an additional two years of survival compared to men, which may be influenced by “Increased estrogen” (Alpert et al.).

General Health

The last influence that can impact survival when diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases is general health. This can vary in lifestyle choices such as nutrition, physical activity, and especially smoking habits. Although there is currently no direct link between smoking and mesothelioma diagnosis, it can in hand worsen symptoms. As mentioned previously, pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma. When this occurs simultaneously with smoking, it can not only enhance the symptoms but additionally “block your body from fighting it” (CDCTobaccoFree). Therefore, it is extremely important to prioritize nutrition and health as “poor diet and not being active are key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk” (“Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection?”). In addition to this, exercise is especially important after a cancer diagnosis. Although it may be difficult given the treatment symptoms and cancer symptoms presented, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center claimed that if “you exercise regularly after a diagnosis of cancer, you are likely to live longer”. However, it is important to speak with a trusted doctor before engaging in any major decisions that can impact your prognosis.

If you or someone you know has been affected by asbestos exposure or mesothelioma in the state of Pennsylvania, please visit The Halpern Law firm for a free consultation or call (800) 505- 6000 to turn today’s adversity into tomorrow’s justice. We are here to assist you through the legal process of filing a claim and can refer you to the best treatment centers.





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