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Mesothelioma Survival Has Changed Little in Two Decades in Canada

There was some sobering news out of Canada this week that gives even more urgency to the need to find a cure for malignant mesothelioma.

According to data compiled by Statistics Canada, while the net survival of several types of cancer has increased since the early 1990s, there has been little change in mesothelioma survival.

Analysis of Cancer Net Survival

The report, published in the journal Health Reports, calculated changes in net survival (where cancer is hypothetically the only possible cause of death) of patients with 30 different types of cancer during two 2-year time periods — 1992 to 1994 and 2012 to 2014.

After factoring for age-related changes, the report analyzes differences in the five-year survival rates of patients during the two periods.

The goal was to get a picture of how well the country is doing overall in improving treatment outcomes for people with cancer.

Malignant Mesothelioma Survival Lowest of All

Chronic myeloid leukemia turned out to be the biggest winner, with net survival rates in 2012 to 2014 nearly 24% higher than they were in 1992 to 1994.

Survival rates in several other cancers improved by more than 15 percentage points, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the small intestine, and multiple myeloma.

But the news was not nearly as good for patients with mesothelioma and their families, despite ongoing research into novel mesothelioma treatments.  

“In contrast, little to no improvement was observed for cancers of the anus, larynx, soft tissue or uterus or for mesothelioma,” writes author Larry Ellison of the Health Statistics Division of Statistics Canada.

In fact, while 98 percent of Canadians diagnosed with thyroid cancer are predicted to live for at least five years, that figure is only 7 percent for mesothelioma, which had the worst survival of any cancer analyzed.

According to the American Cancer Society, the actual five-year overall survival rate for pleural mesothelioma in the US is somewhat better at around 10 to 16 percent.

Is Mesothelioma Survivable?

Disheartening statistics like these leave many mesothelioma patients wondering whether or not it is even possible for anyone to survive the asbestos cancer.

Fortunately, the answer is yes.

Surviving Mesothelioma details the stories of many mesothelioma survivors, including Paul Kraus, the world’s longest-living documented survivor of malignant mesothelioma.

Kraus is also the author of the world’s top-selling mesothelioma book, Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers.

Note: A limited number of copies of the book are available at no cost to patients and families. Click here to learn more. 


Ellison, LF, “Progress in net cancer survival in Canada over 20 years”, September 19, 2018

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