Stages of Mesothelioma

As soon as a patient has received his or her diagnosis of mesothelioma, it is imperative that the doctor determines the stage of the cancer development. The progression of the cancer often refers to spreading or metastases, and each stage is based upon the point to which it has spread. Staging is typically associated with the process used to determine the extent of the disease. Understanding a patient’s stage of cancer is important when selecting forms of treatment.

Localized mesothelioma (Stage I or II) is confined to an infected mesothelium, the tissue surrounding the body’s internal organs. However, as the cancer cells spread to other areas of the body, it is considered to be in the advanced stages (Stages III and IV). The type of treatment necessary for a patient depends on the stage and level of metastases the cancer has reached. Although staging systems take several forms, four basic classifications are used most often for mesothelioma, aided by chest x-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, and PET scans.

Stage I Mesothelioma

During Stage I, the mesothelioma cells remain in the mesothelium of the chest, although it can also be found in the tissue surrounding the heart, diaphragm, or lung. Typically, Stage I is treated by surgically removing the cancerous cells as well as some surrounding tissue. If mesothelioma is localized but found in more than one location, a doctor might elect to perform a partial removal of the membrane surrounding the lung. Very often, when dealing with Stage I, radiation and drug therapy follow surgery.

Stages of Mesothelioma

Stage II Mesothelioma

Stage II has a great deal to do with whether the regional lymph nodes have been penetrated by the mesothelioma cells. In fact, that determination is the defining factor in labeling mesothelioma as Stage II or III. While the cancer in Stage II has spread from the chest wall to the tissue of the lung, it has not reached the lymph nodes.

Stage III Mesothelioma

In Stage III, the cancer has moved into the regional lymph nodes. It has also moved beyond the diaphragm and into the lining of the abdominal wall.

Stage IV Mesothelioma

In this stage, the mesothelioma has spread to distant critical organs, such as the heart, spine and esophagus.

Appropriate Treatment Options

Stage diagnoses often determine the treatment methods patients may select in an effort to extend their life expectancy and decrease the symptoms related to mesothelioma. Traditional treatment methods include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, and experimental treatments include immunotherapy, angiogenesis inhibition therapy, and photodynamic therapy. Additionally, holistic treatments that can boost the immune system are options, too.

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