Understanding the Stages of Mesothelioma
One of the main reasons that mesothelioma is often diagnosed at a late stage is that most early cases of mesothelioma do not lead to any symptoms. However, the cancer is quite small in early stages and therefore doesn’t directly affect the healthy body as larger, later-stage cancers do. Cancer staging is an important aspect of malignant mesothelioma treatment and diagnosis. This stage of cancer is characterized by four to five stages.
The first three stages of mesothelioma are the least dangerous. The survival rate at this point of diagnosis is around fifty percent, with ten percent of those alive at this point of time experiencing a full-blown cancer. Unfortunately, this still leaves a twenty-five percent chance of survival if the prognosis is good. The survival rate after four to five years of treatment improves dramatically, on average, to around seventy percent.
The fourth and final stage consists of masses that fill the chest cavity and other organs of the body. These masses, known as pus pockets, begin to cause pain and difficulty breathing. They may even block the airway. If the tumor is more than ten centimeters in diameter, it can eventually lead to death. The symptoms include weight loss, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, nausea, pain in the muscles, fatigue, and swelling of the lungs, and sometimes, fluid buildup in the lungs.
In the worst case scenario, malignant pleural mesothelioma spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body. Sometimes, the cancer spreads to the heart or the abdominal organs. When it spreads, treatment options become more limited because the lungs and other vital organs need to be examined first before moving on to other areas of the body. Cancer that spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body has become one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical removal of the tumor and some combination of these treatment options are used to kill mesothelioma cancer cells and slow their growth. Although surgery will remove most of the tumor, it may leave a large scar. Also, there may be scarring in the nearby lymph nodes, but again, these should not be a problem for most patients. If the doctor feels that a patient’s health can be compromised, he or she may recommend that a lung transplant is performed.
After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, most people will never have to worry about Mesothelioma again. This is because the disease is highly treatable. Stage three patients have an opportunity to treat their tumors before they become too dangerous to live with. For more information, please visit the Mesothelioma Help Center today.