These include mesothelioma, a relatively rare form of cancer that is difficult to treat and rarely curable. Therefore, it is all the more important to point out that it needs more research and support for patients suffering from this rare and deadly disease. Mesotheliomas are mostly caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust. After diagnosis and initiation of therapy, the average survival time of patients is only 12 months.
Mesotheliomas make up less than one percent of all cancers worldwide. The disease is only diagnosed in about 14,000 people every year. However, the number of cases is increasing, especially in the elderly, as the disease often occurs decades after exposure to asbestos. 1 Most cases are attributed to men who have been exposed to asbestos while working in the shipbuilding, construction or automotive industries.
After exposure to asbestos, it may take 20 to 40 years for mesothelioma to be diagnosed. The reason for this is that the main symptoms (shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain) are often ambiguous and attributed to less serious illnesses such as flu or cold.
This means that the disease is mostly diagnosed at an advanced stage. While there is no cure for advanced mesothelioma and predictions involved are generally poor, but researchers are committed to helping people with this deadly disease and improve survival.
As with other types of cancer, mesothelioma is classified in stages I to IV (other systems for classifying the stage use different designations, but the vast majority use the I, II, III and IV scale). The smaller the number, the less advanced the disease is.
Stage I of Mesothelioma Cancer
Stage I is the one with the best prognosis for the patient; However, a diagnosis at this stage is extremely rare. In a CT scan, Stage I appears as an enlargement of the pleura. The tumors are small and nodules begin to appear in the part of the pleura lining the pulmonary cavity.
At this well-localized stage, cancer has not yet spread to any of the neighboring lymph nodes. Stage I is mostly asymptomatic, with very few symptoms indicating that something is wrong.
Stage II of Mesothelioma Cancer
In the same way, mesothelioma cancer is diagnosed in its second stage. In stage II, the tumors begin to invade the part of the pleura that covers the lung, diaphragm, and lung as such.
At this point, the nodules come together to create a single tumor. The symptoms are very mild and may go unnoticed without affecting the person’s daily routine. However, many patients at this stage have reported fatigue and mild chest pain.
Stage III mesothelioma cancer
At this point, the patient already knows that something is wrong. Stage III tumors have spread to the chest wall, lymph nodes or superficial pericardial layer.
CT scan may not identify cancer metastases (especially those of the pericardium or lymph nodes). Stage III symptoms are painful and constant. Chronic chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and hoarseness are common symptoms at this stage.
Stage IV mesothelioma cancer
Stage IV mesothelioma cancer is the final and most serious stage of all. It is quite advanced. Tumors have already invaded several parts of the chest wall, the pericardium, the diaphragm or organs distant from the lymph nodes.
It is possible that stage IV mesothelioma is not detected by a CT scan or scanner. Magnetic resonance is the most recommended technique for detecting cancer metastases. In this final phase, the symptoms are quite serious. Palliative treatments are usually necessary.