If you were exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma cancer, it is important to catch it in its early stages. If you get an early diagnosis of mesothelioma, you have more options for treatment and a better prognosis.
After it is diagnosed, your doctor will try to determine the stage that the cancer is and if it has spread. The stages of mesothelioma are from I through IV. The lower the number, the less cancer has spread. A higher number, such as IV, means cancer has spread to other parts of the body. (Cancer.org)
How the Cancer Stage Is Determined
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease. It is the only type of mesothelioma that has a staging system. This type of mesothelioma begins in the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs and the lining of the chest wall.
The staging system that is used the most for malignant mesothelioma is the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system. It is based on three types of information.
- The size of the main tumor. How far has the mesothelioma spread in the pleural tissues? Has it spread into other areas? Can surgery be used to remove the tumors?
- The spread to lymph nodes.
- The spread to distant sites. Has the mesothelioma spread to other organs, such as the bones, liver, lungs or pleura on the other side of the body?
Early Stages of Mesothelioma
These are the AJCC early stages of malignant mesothelioma cancer:
- IA: The mesothelioma is in the pleural lining of the chest wall on only one side of the chest. It may not be affecting the pleura lining in the diaphragm, the mediastinum, or the pleura that covers the lung. It also has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant organs.
- IB: The mesothelioma has spread to nearby structures but could be removed with surgery. The tumor is in the pleura lining the chest wall on only one side of the chest as well as the pleura that coats the lung, the diaphragm, and mediastinum on the same side. It has grown into at least one of these areas: the first layer of the chest wall; fatty tissue in the mediastinum; a single area in the deep layers of the chest wall; and the surface of the pericardium around the heart.
- II: Mesothelioma is in the pleural lining of the chest wall on one side of the chest. It may have gotten into the lung itself or the diaphragm. The cancer is spreading to nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the body as the mesothelioma tumors. It has not spread to more distant parts of the body.
The other stages of malignant mesothelioma are IIIA, IIIB, and IV. These are the later stages of the disease and the chances of living longer are less like than in stages I and II.
Resectable vs. Unresectable Cancer
One of the major differences between early and late-stage malignant mesothelioma cancer is whether cancer can be removed (resectable) or not (unresectable). Generally, in most stage I and stage II cases of cancer, and a few stage III, cancer may be resectable. See stage 4 mesothelioma.
But whether cancer can be taken out depends not just on how much the tumor has grown, but also its subtype. Most doctors say that only epithelioid and mixed/biphasic tumors can be removed with surgery. It also depends on where the cancer is located and if the patient is in otherwise good enough health to survive the surgery.
Even for mesothelioma tumors that can be removed by surgery, in most cases, there will be cancer cells that cannot be seen that are left behind. That is why cancer surgery is usually followed by radiation treatment or chemotherapy.
Tests and Procedures Used to Determine Mesothelioma Stage
- CT Scan: This is a procedure that makes many detailed images of the chest and abdomen from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer that is connected to an X-ray machine. Dyes are usually put into a vein or swallowed to help tissues and organs show more clearly. This procedure is also known as computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
- PET scan: This is a procedure to locate malignant tumor cells in the body. A small level of radioactive glucose is put into a vein. A PET scanner rotates around your body to take pictures of where glucose is used in the body. Malignant cells show brighter in the images because they are more active and use more glucose than regular cells do.
- MRI: A procedure using magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make many detailed pictures of parts of the body. This procedure also may be called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging or NMRI.
- Endoscopic ultrasound: A procedure where an endoscope is put into the body. This is a thin, tube-like instrument that has a light and lens so viewing is possible inside the body. A probe at the tip of the endoscope is used to bounce sound waves with high energy off internal organs. The echoes make a picture of tissues known as a sonogram. Thie procedure also is referred to as endosonography.
- Laparoscopy: A procedure that looks at organs inside the abdomen to look for signs of disease. Small cuts are made in the wall of your abdomen and a laparoscope is put into one of the cuts. Other medical instruments may be put into the same incisions to perform various medical procedures, such as taking samples out to be checked for cancer.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help
With over $30 billion available for victims through the Asbestos Trust Funds, you could be entitled to financial compensations without ever filing a lawsuit. Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll free (800) 352-0871