Stage 3 Mesothelioma Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Treatment

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In stage 3 mesothelioma, cancerous tumors have spread into organs, tissues, and lymph nodes around the original site of cancer. Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed in stage 3 because this is when the patient starts to experience symptoms.

It is estimated that life expectancy with stage 3 mesothelioma is approximately 18 months. ( Some patients are now living even longer, but it is difficult to say that a person can ever be cured of stage 3 mesothelioma. What can be said is this: The sooner you get treatment from mesothelioma specialists after your diagnosis, even if you have to travel out of state for care, the longer your life expectancy.

Stage 3 Mesothelioma Overview

Stage 3 is mesothelioma at an advanced stage. Mesothelioma tumors have spread around the pleura (the lining of the lungs) on one side of the chest to lymph nodes on the same side of the body as the largest tumor.

The diaphragm, heart sac, mediastinum (area between the lungs) and chest wall layers near the major tumor could be affected. The major difference between stage 3 and stage 4 mesothelioma is that the tumors have not gotten to distant organs yet. (

Facts About Stage 3 Mesothelioma

  • The two-year survival rate for stage 3 mesothelioma is 26% to 30%
  • It is still possible to remove tumors with surgery
  • Symptoms include pain in the chest and back and trouble breathing
  • New treatments are becoming available with clinical trials to extend life

Options After Stage 3 Mesothelioma Diagnosis

The best thing to do after getting this diagnosis is to find a team of mesothelioma specialists who are best-equipped to treat this aggressive cancer. It is important that you get treatment immediately as soon as you have a stage 3 mesothelioma diagnosis.

Working with physicians who have treated stage 3 mesothelioma successfully with surgery and other therapies will give you the best chance to live as long as possible. These doctors know the details about mesothelioma and understand the best ways to treat it. Not all hospitals have doctors who know how to treat mesothelioma.

You may need to travel to another state to find the best cancer center to treat your stage 3 mesothelioma.

Stage 3 Mesothelioma Characteristics

Most physicians stage pleural mesothelioma with the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM System. According to this system, stage 3 mesothelioma is divided into these parts:

  • Stage 3A: Tumors are growing into nearby structures, such as the diaphragm and mediastinum on one side of your chest. The cancer may have spread to lymph nodes nearby and into layers of the chest wall and heart sac. Surgery to remove all visible tumors is still possible.
  • Stage 3B: This category consists of two variations, depending on the size of the main tumor and how much it has spread to the lymph nodes. If the cancer has been contained enough to the point of origin or structures in the region, it could be possible to take out the tumors with surgery, even though it has spread to nearby lymph nodes. In the most advanced stage 3 mesothelioma, it has grown too much to be taken out completely with surgery.

Symptoms of Stage 3 Mesothelioma

By stage 3 mesothelioma, the symptoms are more intense and noticeable than earlier stages:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Recurring dry cough

As tumors continue to spread and grow, the symptoms get worse. They will vary depending on the patient and where the cancer spreads. Some patients will experience severe chest pain if the tumor is in the chest wall, while people with immense difficulty breathing may have more tumors around the lung.

Stage 3 Mesothelioma Treatments

Tumors at stage 3 have advanced locally, but removal by surgery could be possible with major surgery. A treatment plan that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation generally offers the best survival rates for people with this stage of mesothelioma.

Stage 3 patients also could benefit from new treatments including immunotherapy, which you may access through experimental clinical trials at some cancer centers.


With mesothelioma at stage 3, tumors have probably spread to lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. Pleural mesothelioma patients may be able to have an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which takes out the damaged lung and its lining.

Depending on how the tumors have spread, some patients in stage 3 could quality for a pleurectomy and decortication procedure. This takes out the lung lining along with tumor masses that are growing in the chest cavity. This procedure leaves the lung intact.


Surgery has better outcomes when it is combined with chemotherapy. Most mesothelioma patients get several chemotherapy drugs with an IV. Chemotherapy can start as soon as the patient gets over his surgery, but it also can be administered before or during surgery.


Radiation may be used after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells. Some research has shown longer survival when radiation therapy is applied before the surgery to make tumors smaller.

Stage 3 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy and Prognosis

It is estimated that 26% to 38% of stage 3 mesothelioma patients live at least two years after they are diagnosed. Life expectancy at stage 3 depends on how well the patient responds to treatment and how much of the lymph system is involved.

Lymph Nodes and Survival Rates

Lymph nodes play a major role in how much and fast mesothelioma spreads. The lymphatic system can spread cancer cells to distant parts of the body. Once this happens, the cancer is inoperable.

That is why it is so important to start treatment as soon as you receive your stage 3 mesothelioma diagnosis. The idea is to remove as much of cancer as quickly as possible to prevent its spread to other parts of the body.

Patients who have minor involvement of lymph nodes may live more than two years. But people with more involvement of the lymph nodes live an average of only 13 months.

Even if the mesothelioma does not involve the lymph nodes, surgery is not always an option for some stage 3B patients if tumors have grown too much too be removed.

Get Mesothelioma Legal Help Immediately

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