Mesothelioma usually occurs in four stages, and the doctors typically use this information to determine the cancer progression, which would bring significant impact to treatment options and life expectancy of the patients. These stages could be known during diagnosis by the doctor, which will determine whether you are in stage 1,2,3, or 4, with stage 4 being the most dangerous and advanced stage.
In this stage, the tumor caused by defective cells is localized to the lining of the affected organ, and not spread further yet. The most common organ that being attacked by the cancerous cells in this stage is the Pleura. Observed symptoms in this stage are minimal and often being confused with symptoms of other diseases, which lead to misdiagnosis and delays in treatments. The most common symptoms for patients within this stage are shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fever, and fatigue. Because of the localization of the tumor, and aggressive treatments such as surgery typically being the main option for this stage. The average life expectancy for patients with this stage is about 21 months or longer, depending on the type of mesothelioma.
On stage 2, the cancer has spread further into another organ near the organ that they were originated. Usually, the cancerous cells in this stage spread further from the Pleura into a single lung and lymph nodes. Observed symptoms on this stage might not be severe but can definitely worsen over time. The most common symptoms for patients within this stage are shortness of breath (dyspnea), chronic coughing, chest or abdominal pains, unexpected weight loss, and fever. Treatment options for patients within this stage might still be aggressive and could possibly add 19 months or less to the patient’s life expectancy, with around 10% of them survive more than five years.
In this stage, cancer has invaded nearby tissues, organs, and in some cases to distant lymph nodes. Most of the patient that being diagnosed with mesothelioma begin in this stage. Observed symptoms for patients within this stage are worse than the previous stage. The most common symptoms for patients within this stage may include chest or abdominal pain, chest tightness, coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, fever, fluid buildup, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and weight loss. Treatment options for patients that are diagnosed in this stage are limited and usually can’t be cured entirely by aggressive treatments such as surgery. The combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation might be used to eradicate as many cancer cells as possible, but usually, this effort will only delay the progression of cancer cells. The life expectancy for patients within this stage is around 16 months.
On stage 4, the cancer cells have spread furthermore to both nearby and distant organs, tissues, and lymph nodes. In this stage, cancer usually has metastasized throughout the chest, abdomen, neck, and bones. Symptoms observed in patients with this stage is the worst compared to any other stages. The most common symptoms for patients with this stage may include the general feeling unwell, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), chest pain or tightness, night sweats, fever, abdominal pain and discomfort, accumulation of fluid in the chest or abdomen, and unexplained weight loss. Treatment options for patients within this stage are minimal and usually aimed at improving survival and quality of life. The life expectancy for patients diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma is around one year.