Mesothelioma is categorized into different types depending on what part of the mesothelium is affected. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This form of mesothelioma affects the pleura (the tissue surrounding the lungs). Like any other form of cancer, a comprehensive malignant pleural mesothelioma diagnosis includes determining the disease’s stage. Generally, doctors use staging to see how far cancer cells have metastasized (spread) through the body. When a doctor knows how far cancer cells have spread, they can develop the most effective treatment plan for the patient.
Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma
Usually, a doctor will determine the mesothelioma stage when diagnosing a patient. Mesothelioma stages describe the location, size, and spread of cancer cells. Once a doctor determines the mesothelioma stage, they can develop a treatment plan to improve prognosis and life expectancy.
Currently, only pleural mesothelioma has a formally accepted staging system. Malignant mesothelioma is classified into four main stages; Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4. Stage 1 is the least advanced stage of malignant pleural mesothelioma, whereas Stage 4 is the most advanced. Often, patients are diagnosed after Stage 1. This is because, in the early stages, people usually do not experience any symptoms.
The following is more on the four main stages of pleural mesothelioma;
- Stage 1: This is the earliest and, as already mentioned, least advanced stage of malignant mesothelioma. At this stage, the tumor is still localized to the pleura. Many patients do not experience symptoms when their disease is at this stage.
- Stage 2: Here, the tumor has begun to spread to nearby organs, such as the lung or diaphragm. Symptoms in this stage are usually still relatively mild and might include chest pain, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing.
- Stage 3: Malignant pleural mesothelioma is said to have reached this stage if cancer cells have reached deeper tissues in adjacent organs and distant lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: At this stage, there are tumors at distant sites in the body.
Stage 1 malignant mesothelioma life expectancy and prognosis are considerably more favorable than the other advanced stages. But as already mentioned, it is hard to catch cancer this early.
TNM Staging System
There are different staging systems for mesothelioma. But the tumor, nodes, and metastases (TNM) system is the most widely used and accepted system. To classify malignant mesothelioma using this system, doctors look at;
- The size and extent of the tumor
- Whether cancer cells have metastasized to nearby lymph nodes
- Whether cancer cells have metastasized to other body parts
In 2018, the TNM system was updated to divide stages 1 and 3 into two subsets. Under this system, the four pleural mesothelioma stages include stages 1A, 1B, 3A, and 3B.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Lawyers
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.