1. Stage One Mesothelioma
Stage one mesothelioma is classified when the disease is at its earliest phase of development. During this stage, tumors are located near the original site of disease and have only grown in one layer of the lungs’ lining, which is known as the pleura. Life expectancy for patients who are diagnosed with stage I mesothelioma is usually better than in later stages, with the average being more than three years from the time of diagnosis. However, patients are almost never diagnosed at this stage, since symptoms are almost imperceptible. Symptoms of mesothelioma tend to be noticed only in later stages when they can also be mistaken for other lung disorders. The first course of treatment is usually curative surgery to resect the tumor, which can be combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
2. Stage Two Mesothelioma
Stage II is still considered an early phase of mesothelioma, during which the symptoms are vague and mild. During this time, patients start to lose weight and feel bloated, but it can still be mistaken for the flu or another disease. However, the diagnosis is slightly more common than stage I. There are several treatment options, with surgery being the first line of treatment. Patients diagnosed at stage II of mesothelioma can live for years, but the median life expectancy is 19 months.
3. Stage Three Mesothelioma
When mesothelioma has progressed to stage III, it is considered to be in an advanced stage and it is likely to have spread to other locations on the same side where the cancer first developed. Lymph nodes, the esophagus, muscles, ribs, heart and the chest wall are common places for cancer spreading. Stage III mesothelioma patients start to experience more difficulty breathing and intense chest pain even at rest, while bowel obstruction and pain can also occur. Since mesothelioma has spread to various locations at this stage, patients may feel discomfort in other body parts. During this phase, surgery may no longer be an option, while chemotherapy and radiation therapy are more common. Physicians may also start considering palliative care. Stage III mesothelioma patients have a median life expectancy of 16 months.
4. Stage Four Mesothelioma
In patients with stage IV mesothelioma, cancer has metastasized all throughout the body via the bloodstream. Symptoms are more severe and can include difficulty breathing and severe chest pain. When there are tumors in the esophagus or stomach, patients can also experience digestive problems and difficulty swallowing or eating. Given the aggressiveness of the disease at this stage, surgery is no longer recommended and the majority of the patients undergo palliative care to help ease the pain and other symptoms. However, about 30 percent of all patients are only diagnosed when they are already at stage IV mesothelioma, which has an average life expectancy of less than 12 months.
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