Mesothelioma is cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects the membranes around various organs. The most common is pleural mesothelioma that affects the lung lining. Mesothelioma also can affect the abdominal organs, heart, and testicles. Stage 1 mesothelioma is the earliest stage of mesothelioma, meaning that cancer has not yet spread from the original tumor. (Cancer.org)
Mesothelioma is not curable, but patients who are diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma have the best outcomes.
Stage 1 Mesothelioma Overview
Stage 1 mesothelioma is the least advanced. Tumors are present in the linings of the lungs or other organs but have not gone beyond there. There are two types of stage 1 mesothelioma:
- Stage 1A: The parietal layer of the pleura is affected. This is the part of your pleural lining that lines the wall of the chest but is not part of the lungs themselves.
- Stage 1B: The visceral layer of the pleura is affected. This is part of your pleural lining that lines your lungs but not a part that covers the thoracic wall.
It is difficult to diagnose mesothelioma at this early stage because there usually are no symptoms yet. Most patients do not experience symptoms until stages 3 and 4.
Facts About Stage 1 Mesothelioma
- Tumors are only in the lining of one lung.
- Treatments are most effective at this early stage.
- Life expectancy for stage 1 patients is 30 to 40 months.
Options After Stage 1 Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If you have been diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma, you are, in terms of mesothelioma patients, quite fortunate. Most patients are not diagnosed until stage 3 or 4 when treatment options are fewer. With stage 1, you are a candidate for surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and various clinical trials that can greatly extend your life expectancy.
The best thing to do after your diagnosis is to find a team of mesothelioma healthcare providers who are highly experienced with this type of cancer. Get treatment as soon as you can after diagnosis so cancer can be contained.
Symptoms of Stage 1 Mesothelioma
Symptoms of stage 1 pleural mesothelioma are like those of other lung diseases, including pneumonia and asthma. This is why stage 1 mesothelioma is often mistaken for less serious diseases. The major symptom you may feel is pressure in the chest. This is caused by fluid building up in the lining of the lung, which is known as a pleural effusion.
If you have been diagnosed with stage 1 peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma, you could feel a slight pressure in the abdominal area that is caused by a fluid buildup in the abdominal wall.
Other symptoms of stage 1 mesothelioma are general, making it hard to diagnose:
- Chest pressure or pain
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
Stage I Mesothelioma Characteristics
In stage 1A, cancer cells exist in the pleural lining of your chest wall but only on one side. There has been no metastasis in the lymph nodes or distant organs.
In stage 1B, cancer cells are in the pleural lining of your chest wall, but only on one side. Tumor growth may have progressed to the lung tissue, diaphragm, chest wall, pericardium, mediastinal fat, or fascia layer. There has been no metastasis to lymph nodes or distant organs. (mesothelioma.com)
Treatment Options for Stage 1 Mesothelioma
Stage 1 mesothelioma has the most treatment option. Each of the standard treatments can be tried more aggressively in stage 1 than in the later stages. Most patients will have several treatments at once, which is a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy: (Cancer.ca)
- Surgery: The goal is to remove as much cancer as possible. Aggressive surgeries in stage 1 have shown success, such as extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), and peritoneal resection. The surgeon will attempt to remove all visible signs of cancer in these operations.
- P/D is a surgery that spares the lung and is often ideal for stage 1 patients. The first part of this surgery is a pleurectomy, which is the removal of the lung lining. The next part is decortication, which is removing all visible tumors from the lung region.
- EPP is a more aggressive surgery that involves the removal of the entire lung and lining. If cancer has spread, your doctor may take out part of the diaphragm and heart lining.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment destroys cancer cells in various ways, depending on the drugs used. Chemotherapy can be used before, during, or after surgery. Chemotherapy also delays the time that cancer may recur, and will improve your survival. When combined with surgical resection, it is possible to live several years in many cases.
- Radiation: This treatment directly damages cancer cells and will reduce your symptoms. Radiation is not common with stage 3 or 4 mesotheliomas, but it can be successful at stages 1 and 2.
The bottom line is that stage 1 mesothelioma is highly treatable. When mesothelioma is caught this early, it is possible to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapies that can greatly extend your life. The cancer cannot be cured, but it is possible to have a partial or even total remission with stage 1 mesothelioma.
The most important thing to remember is that mesothelioma prognosis is dependent on catching the disease in stage 1 or 2. If you know you were exposed to asbestos in your work or home, it is vital to tell your doctor about it. He or she will be able to keep an eye on your overall health and investigate further if you start to show symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or cough.
Your doctor can perform regular chest X-rays to investigate whether any abnormalities are developing. That way, if you ever do get mesothelioma, it can be caught in stage 1 and you can possibly live years longer.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help Immediately
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.