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Stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of cancer. Its severity has doctors puzzled and unable to find a treatment that will extend the quality of life for more than five years. Many patients who are at a risk of having mesothelioma never feel symptoms. Doctors even note that some patients who go undiagnosed die from mesothelioma each year. Fortunately, if the disease is found at an early stage, it can be diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion.

Here is a breakdown of what happens when asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lungs. First, the fibers are inhaled by the person who is asbestos exposed. The fibers then travel into the lungs and become implanted into the lung tissue. This scaring of the lung tissue assists in making sure the fibers do not do any more damage. The scar tissue that has been created because of the fibers is what is at risk for developing the cancer.

The trouble lies with the symptoms. Some are non-existent and even resemble other health complications. Another unfortunate aspect of this disease is that its symptoms are not visible until many years after their asbestos exposure. It is important for individuals to become familiar with asbestos related illnesses and if they have been exposed to immediately contact a doctor to be tested.

The Four Stages

The universal system for deciding what the stage of any type of cancer is TNM. This system is effective because it describes the degree of the tumor, the presence of cancer in or around the lymph nodes, or isolated metastases. The information collected from these factors allows the doctor to determine which stage to put the patient.

Stage 1 one primarily effects the patient’s outer later of the pleura that surrounds the chest wall. This type if mesothelioma may have corrupted the pleural issue covering up the diaphragm. Stage 1b is determined when the cancer has begun to spread to the inner pleural layer. This is the section closest to the lungs making it very dangerous but still contained on one side of the chest. Stage 2 begins when the cancer has spread to both sides of the body. The tumor around the pleural tissue has begun to expand or has started to spread into the diaphragm muscle. Stage 3 spreads to the chest wall covering the heart. There is a good chance that this can be removed from surgery. Another aspect that doctors may diagnose with this stage is if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Stage 4 is the most dangerous out of the group. This type of cancer is unable to be removed by surgery. This is due to the cancer spreading to other organs of the body, specifically the lymph nodes or other chest organs.

Although there are other forms of deciding what stage a cancer, is in TNM concludes to be very effective. When a prognosis has been made from observing the stage the cancer is in, the doctor will be able to assess what form of treatment, if any, is suitable for the patient.