Stage II Mesothelioma is considered an advanced stage, with the mesothelioma tumor spread on the outer lining of the lungs and metastasized to the lung tissue itself, or to other areas, such as the esophagus and diaphragm and also migrated as far as the heart tissues and linings.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the first step in determining treatment is finding out what stage the cancer has progressed to. Each cancer has a specific staging system, and that’s because each disease is different, progressing at different rates and places in the body. Staging is the process of determining how far the mesothelioma cancer has spread through the body. It is done through tests such as X-rays and MRIs, and can be determined by a pathologist using a tissue sample. Correct determination of the stage is necessary for the patient to receive the appropriate treatments to fight this deadly disease.
Mesothelioma cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos materials. The small fibers of asbestos are breathed in or ingested and become embedded in the lining of the lungs. A buildup of these materials over time leads to inflammation and scarring of the tissue; it has been discovered that the minerals in asbestos can get into the inner working of cells and cause them to produce abnormally, which is what leads to the cancer known as mesothelioma.
Diagnosing Stage II Mesothelioma
When doctors determine the stage of your cancer, there are a few staging systems they may use; the system used specifically for mesothelioma cancer is the Butchart system. This system is based on the extent to which the disease has spread from the primary tumor mass. Using the Butchart system, stage II mesothelioma is considered advanced. In this stage, the mesothelioma tumor has formed on the outer lining of the lungs, called the pleural, and has spread and metastasized to the lung tissue itself, or to other areas, such as the esophagus and diaphragm. Stage II mesothelioma cancer cells may have also migrated as far as the heart tissues and linings. At stage II, operating on the tumor and the tissues it has spread to is still an option, but may not be effective, as lymph nodes may still contain cancerous cells that may continue to spread following tumor removal.
The pleura membrane surrounding the lungs and pleural tissues produces small amounts of lubricating fluid, allowing the lungs to easily and comfortably expand and contract. Normally, any excess fluid that is produced becomes absorbed by the blood and lymph vessels, preventing the fluid from building up. When stage II mesothelioma cancer is present, however, this fluid starts to build up between the membrane of the lungs and the membrane of the chest cavity wall, resulting in pleural effusion. The lungs become tight and cannot expand, causing a person to experience shortness of breath, chest pains and a dry, persistent cough.
Treating Stage II Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, mesothelioma cancer is rarely found at this stage. The fact that it is hard to detect and has symptoms common to many other illnesses means that the cancer can go undetected and untreated for a long period of time, often not being discovered by a doctor until it reaches stage III or IV. If it is found at this stage, prognosis for patients is usually positive. Through traditional treatment methods such as chemotherapy and radiation, combined with the option to remove the tumor surgically, patients may look forward to a positive outcome.