The four stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma stages are the assessment levels that doctors utilize to determine the extent of the cancer within the body. Mesothelioma is staged between I and IV, depending on severity. Stage I mesothelioma, for instance, is highly localized disease, with the tumor affecting only a limited area and organ tissue. Stage IV cancer, on the other extreme, is extensive disease, which has spread far beyond the tumor’s origin, affecting other organ tissue and even blood or bone cells.

Given how rare mesothelioma is, a formal staging classification exists only for pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity. Staging is determined at diagnosis, using any number of diagnostic procedures. Basic staging can be determined through the use of imaging scans, which will provide cancer specialists a visual representation of the extent of the tumor within the body. If the results of imaging scans are inconclusive or it appears that the disease is not localized, a physician may request the patient to undergo a needle or surgical biopsy, which can determine if the malignant cells have metastasized to the blood or lymph nodes through laboratory testing.

The tumor is localized, there is no lymph node involvement, and the cancer has not spread to other organs or tissues. In this case, the cancer is likely restricted to one side of the pleura and surgical removal is typically feasible.
The tumor is larger and has invaded the lung or diaphragm. Lymph nodes may also be involved. In this case, surgical resection may be possible though the cancer has likely spread to both sides of the pleura.
Mesothelioma has invaded a single region or area such as the chest wall, esophagus, and/or lymph nodes, and surgical resection is generally ruled out as a potential beneficial treatment.
Mesothelioma has invaded multiple regions such as different areas of the chest wall, the diaphragm and/or the pericardium. Lymph nodes are also involved and the cancer has spread to other organs. Surgical removal provides no value in this case as the disease has likely metastasized well beyond its origin.