Four Stages Of Mesothelioma And Their Cures
According to medical experts, mesothelioma has three main types; Malignant pleural, Malignant Peritoneal, and Cell types – Epithelial and Sarcomatoid, and Biphasic.
Though it is terminal, it has four stages of determining its progression.
The 1st stage has the best prognosis, while the 4th stage, also referred to as the last stage, has the shortest survival rate.
Symptoms usually vary from stage to stage and are less noticeable in earlier stages but worsen by the 3rd stage.
Moreover, the different stages of this lung-related cancer allow doctors to determine the size of the tumor and how far it has spread through the body.
In addition, the size and location of the tumor directly impact the patient’s symptoms. A breakdown of the stages of pleural mesothelioma are;
- 1- cancer has infiltrated the lining of the lungs
- 2- cancer has reached nearby organs, like the diaphragm or lung.
- 3- the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes
- 4- cancer has infiltrated tissues, distant and nearby organs, and lymph nodes
Patients think they can identify their stage according to their symptoms, but the symptoms themselves don’t show the severity of the type of mesothelioma.
In addition, you probably won’t be diagnosed early because mesothelioma symptoms don’t appear until the third or fourth stage.
That said, the mesothelioma staging process is a critical part of diagnoses and necessary treatment. First, your pathologist will use biopsy samples to complete tumor differentiation and grading.
After that, your oncologist will use the result from the biopsy to identify the stage and determine if the patient will benefit from treatment like radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
That said, let us take a detailed look at the four different stages of mesothelioma down below.
Stage 1 Pleural mesothelioma.
Stage one of pleural mesothelioma indicates that cancer has developed in the lining of the lungs but hasn’t spread to nearby organs. Typically, surgery is the best type of treatment during the first stage as it allows your surgeon to remove the tumor(s) while it hasn’t compromised other organs.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, life expectancy and prognosis are much better at the first stage. With the help of surgery, patients can expect to have a median life expectancy of around two years.
It can be tricky to diagnose mesothelioma at this stage because the tumor isn’t large enough to cause breathing issues or pain.
However, if you have a known history of asbestos exposure, you should undergo regular screening to catch the cancer early. That said, if you’ve been diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma, your doctor will suggest a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery for treatment.
Stage 2 Pleural mesothelioma.
Stage 2 mesothelioma prognosis is typically the same as stage 2, meaning you can undergo the same treatment options. While symptoms aren’t as common as later stages of mesothelioma, they might be more noticeable than in the first stage.
That said, during the 2nd stage, the cancer spreads beyond the lung lining and into the nearby lymph nodes.
However, the size of the tumor will generally remain small, and surgery might still be an option. During stage 2 mesothelioma, patients still have around two years of life expectancy.
Although symptoms don’t appear during stage 2 mesothelioma, they might be more visible than stage 1. Typically, these symptoms might be similar to a common cold, such as mild cough, fever, or breathing difficulties.
What’s more, your oncologist will recommend a multimodal treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.
So, while the median life expectancy is typically the same in stage 2 as stage 1, patients who respond well may be able to live three years or more.
Stage 3 Pleural mesothelioma.
The 3rd stage of mesothelioma typically has two sub-stages, 3A and 3B. During sub-stage 3A, the cancer will spread further to the nearby lymph nodes, organs, and tissues.
However, you might still qualify for treatment during this stage. On the other hand, sub-stage 3B mesothelioma affects the distant lymph nodes, and surgery might not be beneficial anymore.
The median life expectancy during stage 3 mesothelioma ranges between 14 to 17.9 months.
Symptoms might worsen during the third stage and appear as chest pain, wheezing, dry coughs, and breathing difficulties. As far as treatment options go, oncologists generally treat stage 3 mesothelioma patients with chemotherapy as surgery will prove to be less beneficial.
Furthermore, your doctor might recommend palliative care to improve your quality of life and control pain.
Stage 4 Mesothelioma.
When mesothelioma reaches the 4th stage, the tumor has spread beyond its origin to other parts of the body like bones, brain, liver, and elsewhere. As a result, this will limit your treatment options to palliative care to help improve quality of life and life expectancy.
The typical symptoms of stage 4 mesothelioma include chest pain, trouble swallowing, breathing difficulties, and much more.
In addition, patients might also experience fever, fatigue, night sweats, nerve pain, weight loss, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite.
However, clinical trials and treatments such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy will help patients live up to a year or more. The median life expectancy of a stage 4 mesothelioma patient is around 14 months or less.
Staging is a vital factor that your cancer specialist will consider when developing a treatment plan for mesothelioma. Furthermore, they might also evaluate your overall health and age.
However, your mesothelioma stage will primarily determine the type of treatment that will be the most effective for you.
In the end, staging allows your doctor to determine the extent and severity of your cancer. So, the earlier you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, the more your chances of being treated!