Stage 3 Mesothelioma
Cancer, in general, is staged according to a variety of systems. The ones most often used for the staging of mesothelioma include the Butchart, TNM, and Brigham systems. Each indicates something a little different about each stage of the disease but the systems are fairly consistent across the board.
Stage 3 mesothelioma is considered to have reached the advanced stages and has spread to both lymph nodes and other organs or tissues nearby. In the various staging systems, Stage 3 is measured as follows:
- Butchart System – In this oldest system that is most often used for the staging of malignant pleural mesothelioma, the disease has spread from the primary area in the pleura to the lungs, abdominal cavity, and other parts of the body. Both nearby and distant lymph node groups may be involved as well.
- TNM System – In this “Tumor, Nodes, Metastasis” system of cancer staging, a diagnosis of Stage 3 mesothelioma indicates that the cancer has spread from the lining of the lungs to other parts of the chest cavity including the esophagus, diaphragm, and other vital organs including the heart. The lymph nodes are also involved at this stage, including distant groups.
- Brigham System – In this system that considers the potential for removing the tumor surgically and looks at whether the disease has spread to the lymph nodes, Stage 3 indicates that surgery for tumor removal is no longer a possibility because the disease is now affecting other organs in the chest cavity as well as one or more groups of lymph nodes.
Treating Stage 3 Mesothelioma
Patients whose mesothelioma has reached Stage 3 generally have a poor prognosis. Unfortunately, the disease is often not diagnosed until it has reached this point, which is why the survival rate is so low in general.
As is indicated with the Brigham System, curative surgery is no longer an option at this point. Instead, chemotherapy and radiation are usually recommended and patients may opt to participate in clinical trials that are testing new drugs and therapies.
However, at Stage 3, treatments are often palliative in nature and doctors do not expect them to do much to halt the spread of the disease. Instead, the treatments are designed to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, relieving symptoms of the disease rather than offering an improved prognosis. Chemo, for example, can provide symptomatic relief by shrinking tumors, and surgical procedures like thoracentesis, the removal of fluid around the lungs, can assist with breathing.
- Cancer Help, UK: The Stages of Mesothelioma. http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=4465
- National Cancer Institute: Stages of Mesothelioma http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malignantmesothelioma/Patient/page2
- American Cancer Society: How is Malignant Mesothelioma Staged http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_3X_How_is_malignant_mesothelioma_staged_29.asp?sitearea=
Last modified: April 13, 2010.