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Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 03/07/2014

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General Information About Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment

Diagnosis and Prognostic Factors
Follow-up and Survivorship

Diagnosis and Prognostic Factors

Prognosis in this disease is difficult to assess consistently because there is great variability in the time before diagnosis and the rate of disease progression. In large retrospective series of pleural mesothelioma patients, important prognostic factors were found to be:[1,2]

  • Stage.
  • Age.
  • Performance status.
  • Histology.
Follow-up and Survivorship

Various surgical procedures may be possible in selected patients, and they provide long-term survival without cure. For patients treated with aggressive surgical approaches, factors associated with improved long-term survival include the following:[3,4]

  • Epithelial histology.
  • Negative lymph nodes.
  • Negative surgical margins.

For those patients treated with aggressive surgical approaches, nodal status is an important prognostic factor.[3] Median survival has been reported as 16 months for patients with malignant pleural disease and 5 months for patients with extensive disease. In some instances the tumor grows through the diaphragm making the site of origin difficult to assess. Cautious interpretation of treatment results with this disease is imperative because of the selection differences among series. Effusions, both pleural and peritoneal, represent major symptomatic problems for at least 66% of the patients. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Cardiopulmonary Syndromes for more information.)


A history of asbestos exposure is reported in about 70% to 80% of all cases of mesothelioma.[1,5,6]

  1. Ruffie P, Feld R, Minkin S, et al.: Diffuse malignant mesothelioma of the pleura in Ontario and Quebec: a retrospective study of 332 patients. J Clin Oncol 7 (8): 1157-68, 1989.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Tammilehto L, Maasilta P, Kostiainen S, et al.: Diagnosis and prognostic factors in malignant pleural mesothelioma: a retrospective analysis of sixty-five patients. Respiration 59 (3): 129-35, 1992.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Sugarbaker DJ, Strauss GM, Lynch TJ, et al.: Node status has prognostic significance in the multimodality therapy of diffuse, malignant mesothelioma. J Clin Oncol 11 (6): 1172-8, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. de Perrot M, Feld R, Cho BC, et al.: Trimodality therapy with induction chemotherapy followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy and adjuvant high-dose hemithoracic radiation for malignant pleural mesothelioma. J Clin Oncol 27 (9): 1413-8, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Chailleux E, Dabouis G, Pioche D, et al.: Prognostic factors in diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma. A study of 167 patients. Chest 93 (1): 159-62, 1988.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Adams VI, Unni KK, Muhm JR, et al.: Diffuse malignant mesothelioma of pleura. Diagnosis and survival in 92 cases. Cancer 58 (7): 1540-51, 1986.  [PUBMED Abstract]