Doctors apply three mesothelioma stages to a diagnosis of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma is staged but peritoneal, or mesothelioma of the stomach area, is not. When physicians use the word “staging” in describing the condition of someone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the doctor is describing the extent of cancer, how large tumors are and if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Staging provides a concise way top determine prognosis and identify the proper treatment plan that is best suited to the patient’s needs.
Mesothelioma stages are determined by physical examinations, imaging scans, laboratory tests such as biopsies and blood tests, pathology reports and sometimes surgery details if surgery was immediately implemented upon discovery of cancer. The staging system used most frequently with mesothelioma is called the Butchart System. This system is based on the size of the largest tumor, if the lymph nodes have become infected with abnormal cells, and other variables
Someone diagnosed with Stage I mesothelioma has one lung infected with asbestos-related cancer, with the diaphragm sometimes carrying cancer cells. Stage II means that mesothelioma has spread to the chest wall and may be found in the heart or esophagus. Chest-based lymph nodes may also be infected. A diagnosis of Stage III indicates that mesothelioma has found its way into the abdominal cavity lining (peritoneum). Usually, lymph nodes contain cancer cells as well. Finally, Stage IV mesothelioma is the direst stage with which to be diagnosed and generally means the patient only has a few months to live. Metastasis is evident and treatment is generally restricted to keeping the person as comfortable as possible.
Other, less commonly used staging systems used in mesothelioma are the TNM System (variables concerning tumors, lymph nodes, and extent of metastasis) and the Brigham System, which mainly deals with tumor conditions.