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Mesothelioma Stages

stages-progression-mesothelioma-diagnosis Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which was widely used in construction until the 1970s that has no known cure.

The symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the tumor develops and can be difficult to detect.

Did your doctor diagnose you with mesothelioma likely due to asbestos exposure?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys serve as patient advocates for individuals who developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases due to asbestos exposure.

Call a mesothelioma lawyer today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

The symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the tumor develops and can be difficult to detect. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it's important to see your doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Doctors use stages of mesothelioma to determine how far along the disease has progressed and what treatment options will work best for each patient. Knowing your stage will better understand what treatments are available and how long they may help manage your condition.

What Is Mesothelioma?

According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma develops from mesothelial cells (membranes surrounding the lungs and lining the abdomen, chest, and testicles). Mesothelioma is most often diagnosed in people who have been exposed to asbestos.

Most patients with mesothelioma develop asbestosis or lung cancer before being diagnosed with mesothelioma. The most common symptom of mesothelioma is the development of a tumor, which often leads to difficulty breathing.

These tumors can spread along the lining of the lungs and abdomen. In addition, mesothelioma cancers may also spread to other organs in the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream, such as the liver and bones.

National Cancer Institute

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), mesothelioma is rare cancer affecting men and women. Still, it can be more common in people who have been exposed to asbestos for many years. For example, NCI states that about 2% of all lung cancers diagnosed in the United States each year are mesothelioma, and about 1 in 3 of those patients is a current or former smoker.

The average age at the time of diagnosis for mesothelioma is 68 years, and it's rarely diagnosed in people younger than 45. Mesothelioma occurs both as an isolated form and linked to another form of cancer, such as lung or gastrointestinal cancers.

Symptoms and Detection

It can be difficult to detect mesothelioma early on since symptoms do not always appear right away.

Because of this, it's important to see your doctor immediately if you experience these signs:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough not getting sufficient air into the lungs
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing or feeling like food is stuck in your throat
  • Chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • Enlarged neck veins, legs, ankles, and feet due to a buildup of fluid (this symptom sometimes appears if mesothelioma spreads to the lining around the lungs or abdomen)

Doctors typically provide professional medical advice and use blood tests and imaging tests to identify advanced mesothelioma and determine if cancer spreads to other areas, including distant lymph nodes.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it's important to see your doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Once cancer has spread, mesothelioma is very difficult to treat, but early detection greatly increases the likelihood of successful treatment.

The TNM System

In diagnosing pleural mesothelioma, the specialist might use the TNM system to determine the severity of cancer. In addition, the TNM system describes the tumor size, lymph nodes involvement, and whether or not there are distant metastases.

  • 1 = Tumor Size
  • T refers to how large or small the tumor is in millimeters (mm)
  • N refers to whether or not there is any spread to nearby tissue or the lymph nodes
  • M represents whether or not cancer has spread to a distant organ

The diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma's tumor-note-metastasis (TNM) staging system can help identify the patient's prognosis.

Typically, the TNM staging system method is superior to traditional staging pleural mesothelioma methods invented by Doctor Butchart in 1976 (The Butchart System).

The formal mesothelioma staging system involves:

  • Stage 1: Mesothelioma Stage 1 in the TNM staging systems is used for patients with completely resected stage I epithelial tumors. It means that the tumor was successfully removed by surgery, and there were no signs of any remaining cancerous cells in the body. However, because mesothelioma is slow-growing, it's possible to be stage 1 for years before symptoms arise. Therefore, surgery is the only effective form of treatment at this time.
  • Stage 2: Mesothelioma Stage 2 is used once the tumor has spread into the tissue around the lungs and chest wall. The cancerous cells can also spread into lymph nodes, but no distant metastases have occurred yet. Therefore, surgery is still the only effective treatment option at this stage.
  • Stage 3: Mesothelioma Stage 3 patients have enlarged lymph nodes located in their chest or abdomen. The cancer cells could also have spread into the lining around the lungs and other areas of soft tissue, but there are no signs of metastases in distant organs. Radiation therapy is typically used as a treatment option at this time, especially if cancer has spread into the lung lining or pleura.
  • Stage 4: Mesothelioma Stage 4 patients have all of the following:
    • The cancerous cells have spread to lymph nodes and possibly other areas near the lungs or chest. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread into the lining around the lungs but have not yet spread to distant organs. Therefore, the patient may not be a candidate for surgery.
    • At this point, a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy might be used as treatment options. Surgery is no longer an option at this time since it's unlikely to lead to a complete recovery from mesothelioma.
  • Stage 5: Mesothelioma Stage 5 is the most advanced stage of the disease, and patients experience all of the following:
    • The cancerous cells have spread to distant areas of the body, including fluid collections in other parts of the body (pleural effusion or peritoneal effusion) and enlarged lymph nodes disease that cannot be surgically removed
    • At this point, only palliative care is available to improve a patient's quality of life. It can include radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or both to slow the progression of cancer and ease symptoms.

It is considered more advanced when mesothelioma has spread to other body areas, such as the lungs or nearby lymph nodes. Once it has spread to other organs in the body, such as the liver or brain, it is considered heavily advanced.

Peritoneal Cancer Index

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the peritoneal cancer index is often used to measure the extent of mesothelioma spread.

In addition, this index measures the number of areas affected by pleural effusion or ascites, which are pools of fluid caused by cancer cells growing in the lining around the lungs.

These scores range from 0-4+ with 4+, representing patients with heavy fluid in at least 80% of the chest cavity.

In What Are the Stages of Mesothelioma?

According to the American Cancer Society, doctors use stages or grades to describe how much tumor growth and spread has occurred. The larger the tumor size and the farther it has spread, the more advanced the stage or grade of mesothelioma.

Unlike many other types of cancer, there are no established early detection guidelines for mesothelioma.

Because symptoms take so long to appear, most patients have advanced disease by the time they are diagnosed. However, some people may have earlier stages of mesothelioma that are not yet showing symptoms.

The four stages of mesothelioma include:

  • Grade I: The earliest stage where the disease is usually found in one location but hasn't spread outside the chest or abdomen yet.
  • Grade II: This middle stage is when cancer cells grow beyond their original location and has spread to nearby regions, organs, nearby lymph nodes, or chest wall.
  • Grade III: The third stage is when cancer has been diagnosed in more than one region of the chest, abdomen, or pelvis. It means it's also metastasized into distant tissues outside of its original area of growth.
  • Grade IV: In this last stage, disease progression is usually very widespread and difficult to treat.

Although it may be difficult to detect mesothelioma early on, regular screenings can help give patients a better chance of successful treatment during stage III or IV.

Unfortunately, most patients with mesothelioma do not receive a cancer diagnosis until they have reached an advanced stage of the disease.

Diagnosing Spreading Mesothelioma Affecting the Lymph Nodes

Mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelial cells that line the abdomen, chest, and testicles, is rare but deadly.

Although mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose early in its development, many patients who have been exposed to asbestos release go into remission after having surgery to remove a primary tumor or diseased lymph nodes.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Doctors use various diagnostic tools to identify the stages of mesothelioma accurately. For example, when diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma, the doctor will likely order a chest x-ray and MRI of the chest.

Mesothelioma Stages: Invasive Surgery is Only Option for Stage II (Intestinal Mesothelioma)

Unfortunately, sometimes mesothelioma spreads to nearby lymph nodes during its progression, creating additional tumors outside the mesothelial lining surrounding the lungs and abdomen.

It is important to note that there are no FDA-approved treatments for early-stage mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of both therapies. However, even with the most aggressive treatments available today, many patients will experience recurrence once their cancer progresses to the later mesothelioma stages.

Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma

After an accurate diagnosis, mesothelioma doctors will treat peritoneal mesothelioma patients to see if cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Peritoneal mesothelioma involves the abdomen lining, so doctors will likely use diagnostic imaging to look for tumors in other regions.

Once the cancer is diagnosed, patients must begin treatment as soon as possible, giving them an increased chance of beating the disease and putting it into remission.

Although mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose early in its development, regular screenings can help give patients a better chance of successful treatment during stage III or IV.

Unfortunately, most patients with mesothelioma do not receive a cancer diagnosis until they have reached an advanced stage of the disease.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Blood Clots Form in Lungs

There are three stages of mesothelioma, based on the extent of cancer. Each stage represents a different severity level and generally affects people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

Malignant Pericardial Mesothelioma

At its most advanced stage, malignant pericardial mesothelioma causes extensive damage to the heart and surrounding tissue. Although some patients receive surgery to remove tumors, this procedure is often ineffective as cancer quickly returns.

As the disease progresses early on, the pericardial mesothelioma cancer affects regional lymph nodes, spreading to other body areas. Unfortunately, the prognosis for malignant pericardial mesothelioma is very poor, with less than 20% of patients surviving one year after diagnosis.

Malignant Testicular Mesothelioma

Advanced stage malignant testicular mesothelioma is rare and is often diagnosed late in its development. Although some testicular mesothelioma patients receive surgery to remove tumors, this option only works if the cancer is caught early.

Mesothelioma doctors will typically recommend radiation therapy in the advanced testicular mesothelioma cells or offer palliative treatments to maximize comfort at the most advanced cancer stage.

Mesothelioma Treatment & Cure: Does It Exist?

Researchers continue to study new treatments for malignant mesothelioma in clinical trials throughout the United States. Although there are no FDA-approved treatments for early-stage mesothelioma, some experimental therapies show promise.

Like most cancers, when found in the early stage, mesothelioma symptoms can be managed.

However, nearly every stage of mesothelioma cancer progression is identified at the clinical stage, where patients diagnosed with the condition began developing cancer decades earlier when exposed to asbestos.

According to the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC Cancer) Staging Manual, treatment options for patients diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma include:

  • Curative surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Palliative treatment

Unfortunately, as with most cancers, mesothelioma cancer treatments (and even cures) are few and far between. As a result, only a few drug manufacturers initiate clinical trials on medications to increase life expectancy.

Several therapies hold promise, but none has been FDA-approved for use against malignant pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma.

Not everyone responds the same way to treatment, and some people don't respond at all. For this reason, it's important to continue having regular checkups with your doctor throughout your mesothelioma treatment plan.

Patients who reach advanced malignant mesothelioma stages experience health problems that make it difficult to perform common activities like eating or talking.

Most patients don't survive beyond five years after their mesothelioma diagnosis. But modern mesothelioma treatments are helping patients live longer lives.

Although there are no FDA-approved treatments for early-stage mesothelioma, some people respond well to stage III or IV treatment. It is great news for those who have been recently diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

There are three stages of mesothelioma, based on the extent of cancer. Each stage represents a different severity level and generally affects people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

Prognosis of Mesothelioma Stages

Mesothelioma specialists and doctors determine how cancer progresses and if it has reached distant organs and lymph nodes. In addition, cancer research and mesothelioma staging systems can help doctors who provide a prognosis for late-stage patients.

The four mesothelioma stages of prognosis for mesothelioma from early stages to the most advanced cancer stage with distant metastasis typically involve:

  • Early-stage mesothelioma: At the early mesothelioma development, Stage I & Stage II are usually undetectable. Often, doctors do not diagnose the condition in peritoneal mesothelioma patients until decades after cancer progresses in cancer cells spread to nearby lymph nodes and the abdominal cavity.
  • Intermediate-stage mesothelioma: As the disease progresses in stage IIIa, stage IIIb, and initial stage IV, mesothelioma patients typically show lymph node involvement in imaging tests, including MRIs, x-rays, and CAT scans.
  • Advanced-stage mesothelioma: At the most advanced age, Stage IV, the mesothelioma is no longer on one side of the body. Clinical staging by mesothelioma specialists can identify the cancer cell progression the distant organs.

Based on the formal staging system, the life expectancy of peritoneal mesothelioma patients is relatively short when accurately diagnosed the first time. At this point, mesothelioma patients have limited options other than palliative treatments and radiation therapy to reduce tumor size and alleviate pain and discomfort.

Filing a Mesothelioma Claim for Financial Compensation

Nearly all mesothelioma patients have legal opportunities to seek financial compensation after being exposed to asbestos decades earlier. Often, the mesothelioma victim was harmed in their job or place of employment by asbestos materials and products.

According to law, the victim can file a civil lawsuit against the company they worked for, citing the negligence of employees' safety.

Some companies did not provide employees adequate protection or safety equipment, exposing them to hazardous materials and cancer-causing asbestos fibers. In addition, a mesothelioma claim can help victims' families seek compensation if their loved one is no longer living.

Survivor Benefits

Financial compensation might be awarded through a settlement in the mesothelioma victim's death. In addition, mesothelioma survivor benefits can help supplement the loss of income and medical expenses for families struggling with the financial burdens of mesothelioma treatment.

Asbestos companies might be forced to pay damages that cover necessary medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, funeral costs, and more. Mesothelioma attorneys can gather evidence and present a strong case for compensation during legal proceedings with the defendant company.

In some cases, family members have filed lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers on behalf of their loved ones after having died from mesothelioma or asbestosis. It may be possible to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party to hold them liable.

For more information on filing a claim for financial compensation, speak with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer or law firm who can help you determine if you have a viable case against asbestos companies. There is no cost unless the victim wins a settlement from the defendant in court.

Hiring a Mesothelioma Cancer Attorney to Resolve a Compensation Case

Was your loved one the victim of asbestos exposure leading to their pleural mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another disease? Are you seeking financial compensation and death benefits paid by negligent parties that caused your loved one's demise?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for mesothelioma patients and their surviving family members. Call us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a jury award or negotiated settlement.

Stages of Mesothelioma Resources:

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