As with other types of cancer, mesothelioma cases are categorized by the size of tumors observed and the spread of cancer cells. One of four basic stages are assigned to patients discovered to have pleural mesothelioma, with Stage 1 indicating recent tumor development and Stage 4 indicating late stage cancer that is likely to be terminal.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma usually occurs in a later stage due to the long latency period of this disease. Because mesothelioma symptoms are often absent until the cancer has spread from its point of origin, it is unusual that a diagnosis will be discovered in stage 1.
Stage 1: New Growth
A diagnosis of Stage 1 mesothelioma indicates the cancer is localized, or restricted to its point of origin, and has not spread to lymph nodes, organs, or other tissues. For example, a pleural mesothelioma patient in Stage 1 will have cancer growth only in the mesothelial cells that line the lungs.
Stage 2: Limited Spread
Patients with Stage 2 mesothelioma have experienced cancer spread to the lungs and/or diaphragm, possibly involving lymph nodes as well.
Stage 3: Significant Cell Growth
Stage 3 mesothelioma victims have cancer cells that have fully invaded a nearby area, such as the lymph nodes or esophagus.
Stage 4: Metastasized Cancer
Stage 4 mesothelioma patients have extensive spread of cancer cells in multiple areas of the body, often affecting various organs, blood cells, and bone tissue.
Treating the Various Stages of Mesothelioma
X-rays, tissue biopsies, and other diagnostic measures help cancer doctors determine stage of each case of mesothelioma. Once a patient is assigned a stage, the oncology team can build a treatment plan designed to prevent new cancer growth, possibly shrink tumor size, and manage symptoms. Generally, surgery to excise tumors is recommended for patients in Stage 1 or 2, but is not usually effective for the extensive growth phases of Stage 3 and 4.
Although mesothelioma treatment is expensive, victims and their families who choose to retain a lawyer and file claims against former employers can get access to significant funds for medical care. If you or someone in your family was diagnosed with this type of cancer, consult with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to discuss your rights to compensation.