Mesothelioma is fairly rare. There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 new cases per year of mesothelioma in the United States, but this figure appears to be increasing.
The average age at diagnosis is 50 to 70 years old. The disease affects men 3 to 5 times more often than women. Mesothelioma is less common in African Americans than in white Americans.
Mesothelioma is a serious disease. By the time the symptoms appear and cancer is diagnosed, the disease is often advanced. The average survival time is about one year. However, if the cancer is found early and treated aggressively, almost half of the patients whose cancer is found early reach the two-year mark, and about 20% survive five years.
The 5-year survival rate refers to the percent of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Many of these patients live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis, and 5-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis. Five-year relative survival rates exclude from the calculations patients dying of other diseases, and are considered to be a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer. Of course, 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment often result in a more favorable outlook for recently diagnosed patients.
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