Metastasis, or spread, of mesothelioma, plays a critical role in your treatment choices. Mesothelioma spreads when the tumor grows beyond the area where it first formed. The more mesothelioma spreads, the fewer treatment options you have. Slowing the metastasis of mesothelioma is essential to extend your life.
Below is more information about how this aggressive cancer can spread. Remember it is important to get treatment started as soon as possible after your diagnosis so you can slow down the spread of the disease.
What Are the Factors That Affect Metastasis?
First, your mesothelioma diagnosis will review how advanced the mesothelioma is and how fast it is spreading. Patients who are diagnosed in stage I or II of mesothelioma have more options for treatment because the cancer is still localized. The cell type of mesothelioma also affects metastasis. People with the epithelioid cell type of mesothelioma have a slower progression of cancer and have better treatment choices. (asbestos.com)
Second, most mesothelioma treatments depend on the goal of reducing the ability of the disease to spread. Physicians use surgery to take out tumors before they spread to other tissues. Radiation and chemotherapy are used to kill cells that replicate. For patients with stage III or stage IV mesothelioma, treatments are more focused on pain relief.
Third, the key to living longer with mesothelioma is to slow or prevent metastasis. No matter the cancer stage when you are diagnosed, there usually is some type of treatment that can better the prognosis. As a patient, you cannot control your diagnosis, but you can improve the prognosis by seeking the best mesothelioma specialists and clinical trials.
Metastatic Mesothelioma Overview
Mesothelioma becomes metastatic when it spreads from the original tumor site to other organs and tissues in the body. Mesothelioma spreads due to the movement of microscopic cancer cells from the main tumor to other areas where new tumors are formed. (Cancer.org)
Physicians describe the growth of mesothelioma with a system that goes from stages I to IV. Stage I and II usually are confined to the area of the main tumor. When cancer spreads beyond the lining of your lungs, chest or heart to other parts of the body, the mesothelioma is considered to be metastatic.
There is no official staging standard for mesothelioma, but doctors usually use the TNM system. It stages mesothelioma metastasis according to how the tumor is growing and spreading to lymph nodes and organs.
Stage III mesothelioma is the first metastatic stage of this cancer. At this stage, the cancer has gone from one side of the body to other organs and tissues, such as the diaphragm or lymph nodes. However, patients with stage III mesothelioma may still be able to have surgery. Whether you are eligible or not depends on cell type and where the tumor is.
Stage IV mesothelioma has spread to both sides of your body. At this time, mesothelioma cancer cells may have gone to structures and organs far from the initial tumor. Patients with this stage of cancer can have palliative treatments that reduce discomfort and pain from the disease.
Staging Mesothelioma Importance
It is critical to understand why cancer specialists use staging to describe how mesothelioma spreads. Staging the tumors help cancer doctors decide your best treatment options.
For instance, stage I or II mesothelioma is still localized in the organ lining and will respond better to chemotherapy and surgery. Stage III or IV mesothelioma has spread the lining of the organs and is difficult to remove with surgery. Patients with more advanced mesothelioma usually benefit from treatments to reduce pain and discomfort.
People who have a late-stage diagnosis also may want to get a second opinion. In some cases, the second opinion could lead to a less advanced diagnosis. You may have more treatment options in that situation.
How Mesothelioma Metastasizes
Microscopic cancer cells go from the tumor through the blood or lymphatic system to organs, tissues and other lymph nodes. Your lymphatic system is a vast series of vessels throughout your body. This system carries lymph instead of blood and it has nodes.
Lymph fluid is colorless and is full of white blood cells. At certain nodes in the system, the flow of lymph can be shut off and this filters out toxins. The body has hundreds of lymph nodes where cancer can spread.
Once the cancer cells get to their destination, mesothelioma tumors can grow elsewhere in the body. A process known as angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels, helps these new tumors to grow.
It makes new blood vessels connecting the new tumor and gives it nutrients and blood. This process is a large part of how mesothelioma spreads throughout the body. Putting a stop to it is a way cancer researchers are currently fighting mesothelioma.
Where Does Mesothelioma Spread?
Patients who have pleural mesothelioma usually see secondary tumors in these areas:
- Lymph nodes
- Pericardium (the lining of the heart)
- Peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen)
- Chest wall
- Mediastinum (space between lungs)
Patients who have peritoneal mesothelioma, secondary tumors may appear in the:
- Pleural cavities (spaces between lungs and inside chest)
Mesothelioma Spread and Cell Type
The cell type of the tumor plays a role in how quickly cancer spreads. Mesothelioma tumors that consist of epithelioid cells may metastasize slower than tumors that consist of sarcomatoid cells.
Epithelioid cells are square in shape and stick to one another as they spread, which slows the spread of the disease. Sarcomatoid cells spread faster because of their spindle shape.
A tumor also can be biphasic. This means it consists of both types of cells. How quickly this form of the disease spreads depends on the ratio of one type of cell to the other. The more epithelioid cells, the slower the disease will spread.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help Immediately
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