Stage 1 Mesothelioma

Stage 1 mesothelioma is the earliest stage of the cancer and carries the best prognosis for patients.

Key Points

  • 1

    Stage 1 mesothelioma is confined to one specific area in the body.

  • 2

    Symptoms are rare or mild (chest pain, coughing, fever) and are easily confused with other common illnesses.

  • 3

    While very few cases are caught this early, treatment is often curative for patients diagnosed at this stage.

  • 4

    Stage 1 mesothelioma patients typically live 1.5-3 years after diagnosis.

Stage 1 is the earliest stage of mesothelioma. At this stage, the mesothelioma affects only one location of the body depending on the type of mesothelioma (the lining of one lung, the abdomen, or heart) and hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Because the tumor is localized and generally small, stage 1 mesothelioma is easiest to treat and is accompanied by a more favorable prognosis. Unfortunately, it is rare for mesothelioma to be discovered this early because there are so few noticeable symptoms.

Prognosis of Stage 1 Mesothelioma

While prognosis varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, patients diagnosed with Stage 1 mesothelioma generally have the best prognosis with an average life expectancy of 21 to 40 months or more, depending on treatment options and success.

Stage 1 Defined By Three Staging Systems

The systems most often used to stage mesothelioma are the Butchart System, the Tumor, Node, Metastasis System (TNM), and the Brigham System. Each system classifies the stages of mesothelioma similarly, but with slight differences. Because of its long latency period, mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed in Stage 1, but its characteristics according to the three systems are as follows:

Butchart SystemTNM SystemBrigham System
The mesothelioma is either on the left or right side and is limited to one section of the pleural membrane. It may also be present on one side of the diaphragm.The tumor is located on one side of the pleura or pericardium, but may have spread to the lung or diaphragm on the same side. There is no lymph node involvement.The tumor can be surgically removed (resected).

Depending on the location of the tumors, Stage 1 mesothelioma may also be divided into two categories:

Stage 1a — Tumors form on the outer layer of the pleura (parietal pleura)

Stage 1b — Tumors are found on the inner layer of the pleura (visceral pleura)

Symptoms of Stage 1 Mesothelioma

Stage 1 mesothelioma tumors tend to be small and localized, so symptoms are usually absent or very mild. This is why patients are rarely diagnosed at this stage.

When symptoms are present in Stage 1, they commonly include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Body aches

Stage 1 Treatment Options

While a Stage 1 diagnosis is rare, Stage 1 mesothelioma patients are generally in good health and have small, localized tumors allowing for more aggressive treatment options with the intent to cure.

A multimodal approach, or combination of the following treatments, is often standard for Stage 1 mesothelioma:

SurgeryChemotherapyRadiation
Typically, a patient found to be suffering from Stage 1 mesothelioma will be referred to a surgeon for removal of the tumor.Surgery may be followed up by chemotherapy to be sure all the cancer cells are eradicated.Radiation may also be used after surgery to help prevent cancer recurrence, though it may also be administered before surgery to shrink tumors. However, this latter approach isn’t often recommended for Stage 1 mesothelioma patients because of the already small size of the tumors.
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  • About The Writer Photo of Dan Heil Dan Heil

    Dan is a contributing writer for The Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center. He hopes to help educate on everything related to a mesothelioma diagnosis and answer any questions patients or family members may have.