Mesothelioma is a serious kind of cancer wherein it is mainly caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that is heat-resistant and fire-resistant and is often used as a coating for items that are exposed to high temperatures. Because asbestos was discovered to be the primary cause of mesothelioma, the United States government has banned its use and production.
More About Mesothelioma
There is a lot more to mesothelioma aside from it being tied to asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that refers to the inflammation and damage to the lining of either the lungs, abdomen, and heart. The three types of mesothelioma depend on where the disease started. If it is found in the lungs, then it is called pleural mesothelioma. If it is in the abdomen, it’s called peritoneal mesothelioma, and if it affected the heart, it is called pericardial mesothelioma.
The most common type is the pleural mesothelioma because asbestos fibers get into the body by inhaling it. When people who are exposed to asbestos inhale its fibers, the fibers tend to stick to the lining of the lungs. These fibers cause the inflammation in the linings of internal organs and when more exposure happens, it can lead to a tumor.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Just like any kind of cancer, there are stages that determine the gravity of mesothelioma. Here are the four stages:
Stage 1 – The first stage is the earliest stage. This is characterized by having only one tumor in one area. For example, there is a tumor found in the lining of the lungs. Because it’s still in stage 1, the tumor hasn’t spread to nearby areas. Patients who are at this stage have higher chances of increasing their lifespan. However, it is best to know that as of now, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. Nonetheless, there are more treatment options for those who are in the earliest stage of the cancer.
Stage 2 – Stage 2 occurs when the tumor is still found in one area, but lymph nodes are starting to show. Stage 2 can also show early signs of the tumor spreading to nearby areas although there are no tumors yet. When a patient is in this stage, symptoms of mesothelioma start to become more obvious. The life expectancy of people who are at stage 2 mesothelioma is often 19 months although there are some who are known to have extended to five years.
Stage 3 – Stage 3 is the start of the alarming stage of mesothelioma. Although the first two stages are alarming in themselves, the third stage is when there is actually a spread to nearby internal organs. Tumors start to grow extensively and the linings of other internal organs get affected. The lymph nodes and tissues become affected, too. More symptoms show at this stage and the patient will already experience difficulty in doing their daily activities.
Stage 4 – The last and most severe stage of mesothelioma is Stage 4. Stage 4 is often considered as the terminal stage where the cancer cells have spread to so many parts of the body that no treatment can prevent. In other words, the cancer has taken over the body. Those who are in Stage 4 mesothelioma are expected to have at most 12 months.
It is important to note that while these stages show a progression of the illness, these stages only apply to pleural mesothelioma. This is because pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this cancer that doctors have had the chance to name stages for the progression of the illness. The stages for the other two types, peritoneal and pericardial, still haven’t been made formal.
Symptoms per stage vary in much the same way that the treating options differ. There are a lot of patients who only discover that they have this illness when they are already in stage 2. This is because symptoms of mesothelioma often mimic symptoms of other illnesses like dyspnea, chest pains, fever, and weight loss. That is why doctors make several tests to make sure that what the patient has is indeed mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an incurable illness although identifying it earlier on can increase life expectancy. There are also more treatment options for those who have this kind of cancer in the earlier stages. If you want to know more about mesothelioma, you can contact the Mesothelioma Help Cancer Organization.