Understanding Prognosis, Life Expectancy & Survival Rate

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Understanding Prognosis, Life Expectancy & Survival Rate

Medical professionals regularly use these three related terms to discuss prognosis. Although they are similar, they are not interchangeable.


A prognosis is a prediction made by a qualified physician of the likely result of your cancer. Doctors base your cancer prognosis on statistics gathered from others with your type of cancer and stage of disease. However, it is only an assessment. Many people have outlived their initial prognoses, and you might be able to improve yours, too, by discussing it with your doctor or our Patient Advocates.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is the estimated amount of time someone will live after a diagnosis. A median life expectancy means half of patients are expected to live longer and half are expected to live shorter.

Median Life Expectancy by Stage for Pleural Mesothelioma Patients:

Cancer Stage at Diagnosis Median Life Expectancy
Stage 1 21 months
Stage 2 19 months
Stage 3 16 months
Stage 4 12 months

Survival Rate

Survival rate refers to the percentage of people who survive for a certain period of time after a diagnosis. These rates are usually measured in 1- and 5-year increments. For example, the 1-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma is approximately 38 percent, meaning more than one-third of patients live one year or longer after their diagnosis.

Pleural Mesothelioma Patient Survival Rates

Years After Diagnosis Survival Rate
1 38%
5 10%
10 4%
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2018-04-18 2018-04-18
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