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Stages of Mesothelioma

When a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other form of cancer, one of the first things doctors do is conduct tests to determine the progression of the disease. These tests are collectively known as staging, and the results are known as the cancer’s stage. A patient’s mesothelioma will fall into one of four stages, ranging from least to most severe.

Catching cancer in its early stages is the key to successful treatment. Unfortunately, most mesothelioma patients are not diagnosed until the later stages of their illness. This is due to the typical slowness of the disease’s progression, as well as its non-specific symptoms. If you have any concerns about potential symptoms of mesothelioma, it is very important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

The Four Mesothelioma Stages

When doctors are staging any cancer, their diagnosis depends on the size of the tumor, how far it has spread through the body, and whether or not it has reached the lymph nodes. There are various systems for staging mesothelioma, but they all rely on these basic criteria. Most of these systems are designed for pleural mesothelioma (which affects the lungs), but doctors may modify them to stage other forms of this illness.

While the specific system used by your doctor may vary, the basic stages of pleural mesothelioma are:

  • Stage 1: Malignant tumors are present in the pleural lining of the lungs, and may have spread to one of the lungs itself. It has not spread to the lymph nodes at this stage.
  • Stage 2: Malignant tumors have spread to both sides of the body, organs besides the lungs, and/or a lymph node located near the affected lung.
  • Stage 3: The cancer has affected the heart, chest wall, diaphragm, or other organs in the abdominal cavity. It may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes at this point.
  • Stage 4: Malignant mesothelioma has entered the blood stream and/or lymph nodes and has spread throughout the body.

The patient’s prognosis depends largely on the stage of mesothelioma that has been reached when he or she is diagnosed.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the medical, emotional, and financial obstacles you are facing may seem overwhelming at times. Fortunately, there are many mesothelioma resources available to patients and their families. Talk to your doctor or search online for available help in your area.

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