Stage I Mesothelioma is the least severe, with the best possible prognosis lending a better chance at long-term survival with best chance of remission and recovery.
Cancer staging refers to the development of metastases within the body. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the tissue and the mesothelium surrounding some of the internal organs, like the lungs, heart and stomach. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that allows the organs to move smoothly, much like the lungs do during breathing. Most commonly, mesothelioma is the presence and uncontrollable division of abnormal cells in the pleura (lung cavity), although the heart cavity and the abdomen can also be infected in some cases. However, the staging system only refers to pleural mesothelioma, since that is the most frequent and has the most research. In almost 80 percent of cases, mesothelioma is a direct result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure is the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Unfortunately, the body can not remove the lodged fibers from the mesothelium, and therefore cells become abnormal. Sadly, the warning signs do not appear for several decades. However, the sooner the latency period ends, the better the prognosis.
Diagnosing Stage I Mesothelioma
The forms of treatment and prognoses are typically determined by the stage of the cancer, as well as the age and overall health of the patient. In addition, how the patient wants to spend their time with family and loved ones is a major factor, since many of the treatments affect your quality of life. Oncologists have options in staging systems, such as the Butchart system, the TNM system (the most common), and the Brigham system, from which to choose. Although there are a few staging processes, there are four stages that categorize the level of severity in all of them. Stage I is the least severe, with the best possible prognosis. Being the earliest stage of progression, stage I lends a better chance at long-term survival. Overall, remission and recovery have the best chance in stage I.
Whereas each staging system is slightly different, similarities do overlap. Below is an outline of what each system suggests for stage I mesothelioma.
Butchart Stage I: Cancer is present in a section of the membrane of either the left or right pleura. It might infect the diaphragm as well, but only on the same side of the pleura.
TNM Stage I: This system defines stage I as mesothelioma cells existing on either the left or right pleura, but metastization may have occurred to the outer portion of the lung.
Brigham Stage I: Mesothelioma is removable and the tumor is believed to be resectable. The lymph nodes have not been reached by the cancer as of yet during this stage.
Treating Stage I Mesothelioma
In general, this is the best possible diagnoses as far as mesothelioma is considered. Stage I patients have the most options for treatments. Most mesothelioma patients are not diagnosed in stage I, because the latency period hides the symptoms until advanced stages (II, III, or IV). And when the warning signs do appear, they are often overlooked as indications of more common illnesses, such as the flu, a cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia.
Typically, stage I patients undergo surgery to remove the tumors and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. Following surgery, patients commonly use radiation therapy or mesothelioma chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancerous cells. Patients receiving a stage I diagnosis have the best case scenario in mesothelioma possibilities.