The Stages of Mesothelioma

Not every mesothelioma diagnosis is created equal. By determining how advanced the disease has become, doctors are able to provide valuable information to their patients, such as how their health will be affected and what treatment options are available to them.

The Four Stages of Mesothelioma

Doctors determine mesothelioma’s progression by identifying certain characteristics, which are then grouped into four different stages. These characteristics are identified using methods such as X-rays, MRIs, PETs, and CT scans. Stages 1 and 2 describe early-stage mesothelioma, while stages 3 and 4 describe the disease in its advanced stages.

Stage 1

Mesothelioma has been found in the protective lining of a single lung, and has not yet spread to the other side of the body. It isn’t found in any of the surrounding organs, tissue, or lymph nodes. At this point, patients have the widest range of treatment options available to them and the greatest chance of recovery.

Stage 2

At this point, the disease is mostly confined to a single lung. However, cancer cells may have begun to spread beyond the lung’s protective lining and into the lung itself. Nearby lymph nodes are also beginning to show signs of metastasis. Several treatment options remain open to patients at this stage.

Stage 3

Mesothelioma has spread throughout one side of the body as well as the lymph nodes, and may have begun to infect nearby organs. Because the disease has spread, treatment options – specifically surgery – have become limited.

Stage 4

In its most advanced stage, mesothelioma is found in both sides of the patient’s body. With surgery no longer a treatment option, patients are limited to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and palliative treatments. Even with treatment, however, patients aren’t expected to live past a year.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of mesothelioma and accounts for around 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This cancer develops in the thin protective lining of the abdomen. The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may or may not include:

  • Pain in abdomen
  • Swelling in abdomen
  • Loss of weight
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy/Fatigue

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stage of the peritoneal mesothelioma. If your peritoneal mesothelioma is in Stage I or Stage II, then your options for surgery and treatment are more favorable than if your peritoneal mesothelioma is in Stage III or IV. During later stages of peritoneal mesothelioma, the goal is to minimize symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of mesothelioma and accounts for around 1 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This cancer develops in the thin protective lining of the heart. The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma may or may not include:

  • Heartbeat irregularity
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Lethargy/Fatigue

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stage of the pericardial mesothelioma. Unfortunately, pericardial mesothelioma is usually only found in the later stages of cancer. A surgery to remove a tumor near the heart is extremely difficult and risky.

Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is a very rare form of mesothelioma and develops in the thin protective lining of the testicles. Less than 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases are testicular mesothelioma. The symptoms of testicular mesothelioma may or may not include:

  • Lumps on the testicle
  • Scrotum swelling

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stages of the testicular mesothelioma. Surgery to remove the tumor is generally prescribed for patients if the testicular mesothelioma is in an early enough stage.

What Type of Mesothelioma is the Most Common?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, but it is extremely aggressive and will spread quickly in the body. This is why it is imperative that mesothelioma be diagnosed in early stages so that it will not spread. Of the four types of mesothelioma, the most common is pleural mesothelioma and accounts for around 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The next most-common type is peritoneal mesothelioma and it accounts for around 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma account for 1 percent or less of all mesothelioma diagnoses.

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