Mesothelioma Stages

The four stages of mesothelioma allow doctors to identify and classify the severity and progression of the cancer at diagnosis. Early stages offer the most hopeful prognosis, while the last stages of mesothelioma often limit the patient to managing pain and improving quality of life.
Mesothelioma staging refers to the process of categorizing malignant mesothelioma according to the extent of the disease in a patient’s body. Staging is a process common to all types of cancer, although specific staging systems are often developed based on characteristics of specific cancers, like mesothelioma.

How Many Stages of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma has four stages that doctors can use to determine the extent of the cancer within the body. Upon being diagnosed, the doctor will identify the stage with a number between 1 and 4, with stage 4 being the most severe and deadliest form.
The four stages of mesothelioma are:
·         Stage 1: The tumor is in one location, and the cancer has not spread. Surgery may be an option for removing the tumor.
·         Stage 2: The tumor is larger and has invaded nearby organs, such as the lung or diaphragm. Surgical resection may still be possible, though more difficult.
·         Stage 3: Mesothelioma cells have invaded nearby areas, such as the chest wall, esophagus, or lymph nodes. Surgery is generally no longer an option.
·         Stage 4: Mesothelioma cells have spread to multiple areas throughout the body. Surgery is not an option, and most treatments focus on palliative care

Mesothelioma Staging at Diagnosis

Mesothelioma staging only occurs at diagnosis. While the cancer may progress or recede, the stage of mesothelioma at diagnosis will not change. For example, if a stage 1 mesothelioma tumor spreads to other parts of the body, it is called stage 1 with metastasis. Likewise, if a stage 4 mesothelioma tumor reduces in size or goes into remission, the stage will not change.
While the initial treatment program may depend on the mesothelioma stage, actual treatment may vary depending on how the disease progresses. Generally, staging requires a number of diagnostic tests to determine the tumor location, size, and whether it has spread beyond the initial site.

Mesothelioma Staging by Type

Given the rarity of mesothelioma, a formal staging classification exists only for pleural mesothelioma, the most common variety. No formal pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma staging systems have been defined.
Although there are no mesothelioma staging systems for less common forms of the disease, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) has published general guidelines for staging cancer in its AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. When doctors do not have guidelines for a specific form of cancer, they can refer to the general guidelines to help determine the stages of extremely rare cancers like peritoneal, pericardial, or testicular mesothelioma.
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