What are Mesothelioma Stages?
Staging is how physicians describe where the cancer is located, if it spread, if so – where, and whether it’s impacting other body parts. Staging is a shorthand way to label how advanced mesothelioma and other cancers are in a person. Your treatment and prognosis will be affected by which stage you’re in. Diagnostic tests are used to stage mesothelioma, so it may take time before tests are done and results are determined.
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by asbestos. How long you should expect to live and the quality of your life may be predicted based on the stage of the disease, though every case is unique.
The TNM Staging System
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) states doctors use the TNM system to stage mesothelioma. They look to test and scan results to determine:
- Tumor (T): What’s the location and size of the primary tumor (where the mesothelioma started)?
- Node (N): Has the mesothelioma spread to the lymph nodes? If so, how many and where?
- Metastasis (M): Has the mesothelioma spread in the body? If so, how much and where?
There are many considerations for each.
- Tumor (T)
The “T” plus a letter and or number (0 through 4) describes the tumor’s stage. Its size is measured in centimeters (cm). One is about the width of a standard pencil or pen. This can be further broken down to give more details.
TX: The primary tumor can’t be evaluated.
T0: There’s no evidence of a primary tumor.
T1: The tumor is in the pleura (the thin membrane lining the lung and inner chest walls) on one side of the body. It may or may not have advanced into the thin membranes lining the lungs, the chest, and the muscle (the diaphragm) separating the chest cavity from the abdomen
T2: The tumor is in all pleural surfaces on one body side and advanced into the lung or the diaphragm.
T3: The tumor is in all of the pleural surfaces on one body side and into at least one of the following:
- The membrane surrounding the thorax (which is from the neck to the abdomen), the endothoracic fascia
- The chest area between the lungs, the mediastinum
- A chest wall muscle area
- The pericardium, or lining of the heart
T4: The tumor is in all of the pleural surfaces on one body side and into at least one of the following:
- Chest wall areas, with or without growth into a rib
- Through the diaphragm
- Any organs in the central thorax, like significant blood vessels
- Pleura of the chest’s other side
- The spine
- The pericardium, possibly causing fluid to build up, or to the heart
- Node (N)
Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help us fight infections. Those near the chest are regional lymph nodes. Those in other parts of the body are distant lymph nodes.
NX: The regional lymph node can’t be evaluated.
N0: Mesothelioma hasn’t reached the regional lymph nodes.
N1: Mesothelioma is in the bronchopulmonary lymph nodes in the lungs on one body side and or into the hilar lymph nodes near the lung’s larger airways. It may have gotten into other lymph nodes in the chest on one body side, including those near the breast bone, the ones surrounding the diaphragm, nodes between the ribs, or in fat surrounding the heart.
N2: Mesothelioma is in the mediastinal lymph nodes (those near the heart, the bigger blood vessels, trachea, and esophagus) on both body sides, internal mammary or breast lymph nodes, and or supraclavicular lymph nodes above the collar bone on one or both body sides.
- Metastasis (M)
This indicates whether the mesothelioma has spread to other body parts. If it has, this is called distant metastasis.
M0: Mesothelioma hasn’t spread to other body parts.
M1: Mesothelioma has spread to other body parts
Cancer stage grouping
The results of this method determine your mesothelioma’s stage. There are four stages, and Roman numerals are used (I through IV). Staging may be pathological or clinical:
- Pathological staging is the examination of tissue and liquid found during surgery and extracted with needles
- Clinical staging is the results of pre-surgical tests, which can include imaging results and physical examinations
Doctors assign the stage of the mesothelioma by using the T, N, and M information.
IA: The mesothelioma tumor is in the pleura on one body side. It may or may not be in the visceral pleura (which covers both lungs), mediastinal pleura (it covers part of the chest cavity between the lungs, including the heart, aorta, thymus, trachea, and esophagus), or the diaphragmatic pleura (which covers the diaphragm). It’s not in the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
IB: The tumor is T2 or T3. Mesothelioma hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other body parts.
II: The tumor is T1 or T2. It’s not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
IIIA: The tumor is T3. Mesothelioma has spread to lymph nodes (N1) but not other body parts.
IIIB: Any of the following:
- The tumor is T1, T2, or T3. Mesothelioma has spread to lymph nodes (N2) but not to other body parts
- The tumor is T4. Mesothelioma may or may not be in lymph nodes but has not spread to other body parts
IV: Mesothelioma may or may not have spread to lymph nodes but has spread to other body parts.
If You’re Diagnosed With Mesothelioma, Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you have mesothelioma or an asbestos-related illness, you may qualify for compensation for all the damage it’s doing to you and your family. Call our law office in Louisville, KY at 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 800-655-2117 or complete our contact form for a free initial consultation. We’ll talk about your situation, how the law may apply, and your best options for obtaining compensation in a mesothelioma lawsuit.