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Mesothelioma is cancer that affects the thin membrane protecting several of the body’s most important organs, including the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Treatment for this disease includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Pleural Mesothelioma Stages
Doctors use 4 stages to describe the spread, or metastasis, of pleural mesothelioma. Each stage details how far the tumor has spread from where it first appeared in the pleura, the protective lining of the lungs. Your doctor may also refer to the cancer stage of mesothelioma as early or advanced. Early–stage mesothelioma includes stages 1 and 2, while advanced–stage includes stages 3 and 4.
Pleural Mesothelioma stage 1
The growth of stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is limited to the lining of one lung. During stage 1, the tumor can also spread from the outer lining of the lung (closer to the wall of your chest) to the inner lining (closer to the lung itself).
Patients diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma have the most favorable prognosis compared to more advanced stages of the disease. Stage 1 tumors are more responsive to curative treatment — like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy — because the tumor is limited to the lining of one lung and easier for doctors to remove.
Pleural Mesothelioma stage 2
Like stage 1, most of the growth of a stage 2 tumor still occurs in the lining of one lung. At this point, however, the cancer cells may have spread to the walls of the patient’s chest, diaphragm, nearby lymph nodes, or to the lung itself.
Patients diagnosed with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma have a similar prognosis to patients with stage 1. Stage 2 patients are still eligible for curative treatments that can extend life expectancy.
Pleural Mesothelioma stage 3
At stage 3, a tumor has spread throughout one side of the body and has invaded at least one—or all—of the following: one lung, the diaphragm, nearby lymph nodes, and the protective lining of the heart.
The prognosis of patients diagnosed with stage 3 mesothelioma is closely linked to age and general health. Those who are healthy, and can withstand surgery, may be eligible for treatments that can extend life expectancy well past the average.
Pleural Mesothelioma stage 4
The growth of a stage 4 mesothelioma tumor has spread far beyond the lining of one lung. At this stage, cancer cells and secondary tumors may exist in larger sections of the chest wall, diaphragm, lining of the heart, and lymph nodes located far from the lining of the lung.
Patients diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma have an average life expectancy shorter than 12 months. Stage 4 patients may not be eligible for traditional curative treatment options like surgery. Patients do, however, have other options. Palliative treatments ease pain caused by the disease and have shown prognostic benefits in some cases.
Patients can also speak with their doctors about new treatments that researchers are testing in clinical trials. Some experimental therapies currently in clinical trials may become standards treatments, some of which may lead to a cure