Stages of Mesothelioma Series
During stage two of mesothelioma, the cancer will progress from the tumor to an adjacent tissue or organ; however stage three marks the spread of the cancer to multiple adjacent areas. Stage three is considered to be an advanced stage of mesothelioma, and treatment options become significantly reduced and restricted.
During this stage, there are a small, limited number of treatments available, and most have the primary goal of providing pain relief to the patient and extending life expectancy as much as possible. Once the cancer has reached stage three, this signifies that the tumors have spread throughout a substantial amount of the chest wall, the nearby the lymph glands, or the lining of the heart. A physician will determine when stage three has begun based on the range of the spread of the cancer cells.
Common Signs and Symptoms Experienced During Stage Three
Once stage three mesothelioma has been reached, the patient will have already been experiencing mild to moderate symptoms during stage two. During stage three, symptoms will become considerably more intrusive and painful. Symptoms may often include:
- Severe pain
- Significant trouble breathing
- Frequent coughing and shortness of breath
At this stage, the cancer has progressed to other areas of the body, and this can lead to severe pain in new areas as well. Therefore, a patient who was already experiencing pain in the chest area may find that this pain becomes more severe and/or spreads to the abdominal area, or other areas in the body, throughout stage three.
Stage Three Treatment Options
Once mesothelioma tumors have begun to grow in multiple areas of the body, the effectiveness and safety of surgical procedures, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy begins to diminish substantially.
Depending upon the location of the tumors, there are a few rare circumstances when stage three patients will be eligible for surgery, during which the surgeon attempts to remove the entire invasion of mesothelioma tumors. Before and/or after the surgery, the patient will generally undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatments in order to address cancer cells that are not removed during the surgery.
In most cases, stage three patients are not suitable candidates for surgical procedures. When this is evident, physicians will often recommend chemotherapy and radiation treatment options that will reduce the amount of pain and potentially extend life expectance. During one study, approximately 80% of patients who underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments noticed a significant improvement in coughing and chest pain.
Prognosis for Stage Three Mesothelioma
It is during stage three that mesothelioma patients receive prognoses that are considerably shorter than those of patients who are in the first and second stages. The prognoses reduce so significantly because it is at this stage that the few treatment options that are available are primarily focused on providing comfort to the patient and often do not extend life expectancy by very large amounts.
Once the spread of the cancer has progressed to stage three, removing all of the tumors can become dangerous to impossible, and treatment will often focus upon improving the remaining quality of life. Typical stage three prognoses range from a few months to just over a year following the diagnosis.
It is important to note, however, that not all mesothelioma cases are the same, and each patient’s body will react differently to the illness and to the treatments. There are many inspirational and motivating examples of patients who have far outlived a stage three prognosis. To best understand what to expect from stage three mesothelioma, and the treatment options available, it is wise to visit a specialist who can take a specific case into close consideration.
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