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The Stages of Mesothelioma - Mesothelioma Lawsuit Advice

The Stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer that is typically found in people who have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos are mineral fibers that can cause tumors to form in the linings of organs when the fibers become lodged, or stuck, in the lining. Typically this type of cancer affects a person’s pleura, which is the lining of a person’s lungs. However, it can affect other organs in the body, such as the abdomen or heart. Because of how rare mesothelioma is, there is only a formal system for determining the stage of the disease in those diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, which is the form that affects a person’s lungs. However, because of how aggressive mesothelioma and how much more difficult it is to treat it in later stages, determining which stage a person’s cancer is in is extremely important.

The Differences between the Stages of Mesothelioma

AsbestosMesothelioma has a range of four stages, which are very similar between the three different systems that are used to determine which stage a person’s mesothelioma is in. These three systems – Buchart, TNM, and Brigham – are very similar, but do have slight variations in characterizing the stage of mesothelioma. For the Buchart staging system, which is the most used system for determining the stage of cancer, only focuses on the location of the primary tumor and not how large the tumor is, how many cancer cells there are, or the level of cancer. On the other hand, the TNM system determines stage based on the characteristics of the tumor, if the lymph nodes have cancer in them, and if the cancer has spread to other places in the body (metastasizing). The Brigham system is somewhat similar to the TNM system in that it uses these three factors to determine stage. However, it also uses the effectiveness and possibility of surgery to determine what stage a person is in.

While these stages vary depending on which system is being used, the following four stages are fairly characteristic for each stage:

  • Stage 1 – the tumor is only in one organ or place or has not spread to other tissues and organs. Usually when the cancer is caught in this stage, the tumor can be removed during surgery.
  • Stage 2 – in stage two, the cancer has usually grown and is likely to be in both sides of the pleura or to have gone into the lungs or diaphragm. Also, it may have spread into the lymph nodes. While surgery is possible at this stage, it’s much more complicated and getting the entire tumor is much more difficult.
  • Stage 3 – at this stage of the cancer, the tumor has usually invaded a whole section, such as the chest wall. Sadly, using surgery to remove the cancer is typically not an option at this point anymore.
  • Stage 4 –by this point, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, also known as metastasizing. It is usually in the lymph nodes as well as other organs, making surgery virtually impossible.

Although it is difficult to catch mesothelioma in the earliest stages, getting check regularly, especially after a person knows they’ve been exposed to asbestos, can give a person a better chance at catching it early on, making the prognosis better.

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