Can Mesothelioma Go Into Remission?
Possibly, yes. Several patients have entered mesothelioma remission even though this cancer often overruns the body very quickly.
When remission occurs, you’ll either have fewer or no symptoms of mesothelioma. Further, the cancer tumors might be smaller or no longer seen by doctors on imaging scans or other tests.
Remission can allow cancer patients to defy average mesothelioma survival rates and life expectancies. While most mesothelioma patients have a median survival time of less than two years, those that achieve remission may live for much longer. This gives patients more time to spend with their loved ones and friends.
Some patients have lived for 15 years or more thanks to treatments that helped them achieve stable disease or remission.
You have a better chance of going into remission by getting treatments, which may allow doctors to remove all visible traces of cancer from your body. It’s even possible for patients with late-stage mesothelioma to go into remission.
The nursing support staff at Lung Cancer Group has relationships with mesothelioma cancer doctors and can help you find treatments that could send your cancer into remission. Both mesothelioma and lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure, so our team is well-versed in helping patients like you.
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Types of Mesothelioma Remission
There are two types of mesothelioma remission, each of which can impact a patient’s overall prognosis (health outlook). Some patients can also achieve disease stability, where they still have cancer but it’s not worsening. Learn about each type below.
Complete Mesothelioma Remission
In cases of full or complete mesothelioma remission, doctors cannot see any cancer within the body. This type of remission is also known as a complete response, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
- About 7% of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the lining of the lungs (pleura), achieved complete remission in a study by the journal Lung Cancer. These patients were treated with chemotherapy and lung removal surgery and had a longer median survival than those who didn’t enter remission.
- Roughly 12% of patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (which develops in the abdominal lining) entered complete remission with treatment, according to an analysis of several studies. Some studies in the analysis found that up to 33% of peritoneal patients achieved complete remission after getting treated.
While many cases of mesothelioma do come back even if a complete remission occurs, patients often still wind up living for years longer than doctors expected them to. This can give patients more time to spend with their families that they might not have gotten otherwise.
Partial Mesothelioma Remission
When mesothelioma tumors shrink — but don’t go away completely — partial remission may have occurred. While a complete remission is better, those who achieve partial mesothelioma remission can still extend their lives.
For example, a 76-year-old man with pleural mesothelioma achieved partial remission for 2 years following a minor pain-relieving treatment. This case is also known as a spontaneous remission as the patient didn’t get any other treatments (but he did follow up regularly with his doctors).
Sometimes, a patient will still have cancer in their body but it no longer spreads. These patients are considered to have stable disease.
Patients with stable disease can sometimes live for very long periods of time, similar to those who achieve full or partial mesothelioma remission. A woman diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006 is still alive today — over 15 years later — even though she never achieved remission, only disease stability.
Call (877) 446-5767 now to talk to our mesothelioma patient advocates on how to improve your chances of going into remission.
Treatments and Mesothelioma Remission
Getting cancer treatment arguably gives you the best shot at achieving mesothelioma remission.
Depending on your diagnosis, mesothelioma doctors may be able to use aggressive cancer treatment options and remove all visible signs of the cancer from your body. Mesothelioma remission sometimes occurs even after minor medical treatments, too.
Learn about some of the top mesothelioma treatments that may help you enter remission below.
Mesothelioma surgeries are some of the best treatments when it comes to extending life and removing cancer tumors from the body.
- Cytoreduction with HIPEC: Used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma, this treatment combines surgery with heated chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that patients may be able to enter remission for long spans of time with this treatment.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): This surgery allows doctors to treat pleural mesothelioma by removing the lung closest to the cancer, all mesothelioma tumors, and other minor organs that have been overrun by the cancer.
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D): This is another surgery for pleural mesothelioma, but doctors keep both lungs intact. Doing so allows patients to recover faster than if they’d received an EPP and comes with fewer risks to overall quality of life.
An oncologist (cancer doctor) can determine which surgeries, if any, may help you achieve remission and live longer. Most of the surgeries listed above are used only for those diagnosed in the cancer’s early stages, but other treatments are available for late-stage patients.
Mesothelioma specialists often combine more than one cancer treatment together to help patients as much as possible. This is known as multimodal therapy.
- Chemotherapy: These cancer-killing drugs circulate through the body. Commonly used chemotherapy drugs include pemetrexed and cisplatin.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment boosts the body’s immune response so it can find and destroy cancer cells more effectively.
- Radiation therapy: Using radiation, doctors can disrupt cancer growth using beams of energy.
Using multiple treatments together can have great results. For example, a woman with pleural mesothelioma achieved complete remission after getting an EPP, radiation, and chemotherapy. She was still cancer-free 4 years after getting these treatments.
Besides well-established therapies, doctors continue to study new treatments that could help patients through clinical trials. Clinical trials may note how many patients (if any) achieve mesothelioma remission after receiving the therapy being studied.
A notable clinical trial took place in 2021, where mesothelioma patients were given a targeted therapy drug called rucaparib. All the patients that received rucaparib in the study saw their cancer enter remission or become stable.
Doctors continue to study many other treatments that may help patients enter mesothelioma remission or achieve stable disease. Ask your doctor if there’s a clinical trial you can join that might help you.
A recurrence happens when mesothelioma comes back after it has been in remission. When this happens, the cancer may appear where it first started or in new parts of the body like the liver or brain.
Recurrence can be just as devastating as your initial mesothelioma diagnosis — and the cancer may not respond to the treatments that helped you the first time.
In a 14-year study of pleural mesothelioma patients, the cancer recurred in 78% of all cases.
The Moffitt Cancer Center notes that there’s no way to know when or if you’ll experience a mesothelioma recurrence. The best way to stay safe is to regularly follow up with your doctors and watch out for possible mesothelioma symptoms.
The good news is that it may be possible to enter remission even after a mesothelioma recurrence with an updated treatment plan.
A 2022 trial studied if Opdivo® (an immunotherapy drug) could help pleural mesothelioma patients who underwent surgery but experienced a recurrence. The study found that 25 patients achieved remission or disease stability, while the cancer progressed in only 8 patients.
Mesothelioma Survivors in Remission
While mesothelioma is often very aggressive and deadly, there are survivors that beat the odds and went into remission.
These survivor stories should let you know that remission is possible — even if you’re diagnosed with late-stage cancer.
- A woman who was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in her 30s has been alive for over 15 years following aggressive treatments. Doctors consider her disease to be stable.
- A man with pleural mesothelioma who received an EPP, chemotherapy, and radiation in 2012 was cancer-free for almost 10 years until a minor recurrence in 2019. He’s still alive today — greatly outliving the average pleural mesothelioma life expectancy of 12-21 months.
- A stage 4 pleural mesothelioma patient experienced a complete remission following a minor surgery, chemotherapy, and supplements. He was cancer-free 29 months (roughly 2.5 years) after his diagnosis but the tumors eventually came back.
These are just a few examples of patients that achieved mesothelioma remission and became long-term survivors.
Working Towards Mesothelioma Remission
There’s no way to know for sure if you’ll be able to achieve mesothelioma remission. That said, there are steps you can take to increase your odds.
Here are some ways to work towards remission:
- Access medical care: Treatments are the best way you can work towards mesothelioma remission. Different treatments can allow doctors to remove mesothelioma cells and tumors from your body.
- Find top doctors: Mesothelioma specialists often have years or decades of experience in treating this cancer. They can create a treatment plan that will give you the best chance of living longer and entering remission.
- Stay healthy: Your overall health is very important to living longer with mesothelioma. If you’re healthy and active outside of having cancer, you may be able to tolerate more aggressive treatments that may lead to remission and/or a longer life.
The Lung Cancer Group patient advocates may be able to help you find top treatments and doctors in less time. Our team can also pursue financial aid on your behalf to cover medical expenses. Find out if you qualify with a free case review.
FAQs About Mesothelioma Remission
Does mesothelioma go into remission?
Yes, in some cases mesothelioma can go into remission. A patient may experience a complete remission (where there’s no sign of the cancer at all) or partial remission (where the cancer tumors have gotten smaller but haven’t gone away completely).
Some patients may also achieve stable disease (where they still have cancer in their body but it’s stopped growing).
Are there any survivors of mesothelioma?
Yes. It’s possible to survive for 15-20 years or more after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma survivors often go into complete or partial remission for long spans of time.
Others may end up having stable disease, where the cancer is still in the body but not spreading.
While most mesothelioma patients unfortunately pass away after only a few years or months, survivors remind us that remission — and beating this horrible cancer — still does happen.
Is there a cure for mesothelioma?
There’s not an ‘official’ cure for mesothelioma at this time. That said, there are treatments that can help mesothelioma patients live longer.
Some patients may be able to enter remission for years thanks to the mesothelioma treatments they receive.
Can lung cancer patients go into remission?
Possibly, yes. There have been reports of lung cancer patients achieving remission and living for 15 years or more following their diagnosis, which should offer hope to others battling this cancer.
Lung cancer isn’t the same disease as mesothelioma, so it will require different treatments if you want to achieve remission.