Mesothelioma Attorneys

Mesothelioma Stages


Determining how far malignant mesothelioma has progressed is called staging. It is an important part of determining which treatment options are available to you with a reasonable possibility of being helpful. Staging is also used in determining your eligibility for clinical trials. Mesothelioma is typically discovered and diagnosed in the later stages, but when it is found in Stage 1, there is a chance of making a full recovery.

Pleural Mesothelioma Staging Systems

Different systems for staging cancer have been developed over the years. The three systems used to stage pleural mesothelioma are:

  • TNM (tumor, lymph node, metastasis)
  • Butchart
  • Brigham

Butchart is the oldest staging system for mesothelioma and includes four stages. TNM is a more recently developed system. It also includes four stages, but uses a more complex combination of factors to determine each stage. Brigham is the newest staging system. Brigham breaks mesothelioma down into four stages, based partly on whether the cancer is operable.

General Cancer Staging

Summary Staging, also referred to as General Staging, California Staging, or SEER Staging, applies to all types of tumors. It describes how far the cancer has spread from its initial point of origin. Summary staging the following stages:

  • In situ – applies only to epithelial cancer, cancer is only present in the layer of cells where it began
  • Localized – cancer is confined to the organ in which it began
  • Regional – cancer has spread beyond the organ to surrounding organs, adjacent tissue, and/or closest lymph nodes
  • Distant – tumor has spread to distant parts of the body away from the original site, or cancer cells have broken away from the original tumor and traveled to other parts of the body
  • Unknown – not enough information to assign a stage

Purpose of Mesothelioma Staging

Mesothelioma staging help your doctor determine your prognosis. It is an important part of determining the best course of treatment for your mesothelioma. It is rare for mesothelioma to be diagnosed in Stage 1, but when it is surgery can have very good results. As mesothelioma progresses treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation may be effective, but mesothelioma can become too advanced for those types of treatments to be beneficial.

In the later stages palliative care may be the only option. Palliative care does not treat the cancer. It is used to minimize symptoms, improve quality of life, and help make patients comfortable.

Proper staging is very important because it determines which treatments are available to you. Ask your doctor about the staging system and criteria that he used and never hesitate to get a second opinion if your diagnosis rules out potentially helpful treatments. Staging also determine your eligibility for clinical trials. All clinical trials are different and have very specific criteria for eligibility.