Stages of Mesothelioma
In terms of cancer, staging is a mesothelioma prognosis tool used to determine how far a particular cancer has spread, which can aid doctors in determining life expectancy and treatment plans. Mesothelioma cancer doctors have established a number of different staging systems for pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of this rare disease. There is currently no formal staging system for the other forms of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Staging Systems
There are currently three main staging systems used by doctors to determine how far a patient’s mesothelioma has progressed. Each system uses 4 stages to describe the progression of a particular case, but the definitions of the stages vary slightly according to the method used.
Butchart Staging System
The Butchart System is the most widely recognized and most commonly used mesothelioma staging system for a proper mesothelioma prognosis. This system is based on tumor size, dividing malignant mesothelioma into four stages.
Stage 1: The mesothelioma has affected the right or left side of the pleural lining and may be seen in the diaphragm.
Stage 2: Both sides of the lungs show the presence of malignant mesothelioma, as do the lymph nodes. In Stage 2, the disease may also have spread to the heart, stomach, or esophagus.
Stage 3: In Stage 3, the mesothelioma has reached the peritoneum (abdominal cavity), as well as lymph nodes past the chest.
Stage 4: This is the most severe stage of malignant mesothelioma cancer. Here, the cancer has entered the bloodstream and spread to additional organs.
TNM Staging System
The TNM System was developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer and is very similar to staging systems used to measure other types of cancer as well as a mesothelioma prognosis. This system weighs not only the condition of tumors but also the effect of mesothelioma on the lymph nodes and whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.
Stage 1: In Stage 1 of the TNM System, the malignant mesothelioma is in either the right or the left pleura. It may have also spread to one lung, the heart, or the diaphragm on the same side.
Stage 2: In Stage 2, the mesothelioma has reached a lymph node on the same side of the lungs affected by the cancer. It has also spread to the lung on the same side as the tumor, or to the heart or diaphragm.
Stage 3: Here, the mesothelioma has entered the abdominal cavity and lymph nodes beyond the chest.
Stage 4: In this stage, the mesothelioma has spread throughout the pleural area as well as to the lymph nodes on both sides of the body. The cancer may also have reached additional organs or the abdomen at this stage.
Brigham Staging System
The Brigham System is the most modern mesothelioma staging system. Unlike the Butchart and the TNM Systems the Brigham system also assesses the proposed effectiveness of surgical intervention at each stage.
Stage 1: The mesothelioma tumor is still removable and lymph nodes are unaffected by the cancer.
Stage 2: In this stage, the lymph nodes are now affected but it is still possible to remove the cancer surgically.
Stage 3: In Stage 3, the tumor is not removable and the mesothelioma has reached the heart, chest cavity, abdominal cavity, or the diaphragm.
Stage 4: Here, the malignant mesothelioma is no longer removable through surgery, as it has spread (metastasized) throughout the body.
Treatment of Mesothelioma by Stage
Unfortunately, a person can end his or her asbestos exposure years before mesothelioma symptoms appear, so a mesothelioma prognosis and diagnosis commonly occurs in the latest stages of mesothelioma.
If you or someone you love has been repeatedly exposed to asbestos, you should make this known to your doctor immediately so that he or she can closely monitor the health of your lungs.
This may aid in early detection of mesothelioma, which can dramatically improve the prognosis. Mesothelioma treatment options will then vary depending upon your mesothelioma prognosis.