Once it has been established that a patient has malignant Mesothelioma, one of the most important things that your physicians will do is to determine exactly what stage of the disease you are in. The reason why this is necessary is that it is the stage to which the disease has progressed that determines what the best course of treatment will be for you, and what your expected prognosis is. Staging is accomplished through a series of diagnostic tests, including X-Rays, CT Scans, MRI and Endoscopic Ultrasound. All are used to detect the presence of cancer cells and to determine where they have spread; cancer can spread via growth to other tissue, through the lymph system or via blood cells. There are four identified stages.
In Stage One, the Mesothelioma is localized, which means it hasn’t yet spread. It is restricted to the lining of either the chest, or the lining of the chest and the lung, but has not yet infiltrated the lung itself.
In Stage Two, the lining of more organs is involved, and the cancer has spread to the lining between the lungs, the lining of the diaphragm, the lining of the lung and chest walls, and has also spread to either lung tissue or diaphragm tissue.
Stage Three is far more advanced, and includes involvement of all of the areas cited above, but also has spread to either the lymph nodes or various areas of soft tissue and fat that surround the lung. The lymph system connects many of the body’s vital organs and systems, and once the cancer cells have been found in the lymph it is likely to find Mesothelioma cells in other areas of the body, far from the lungs.
Stage Four is the most advanced stage of Mesothelioma; once a patient has been diagnosed at this stage surgery is no longer an option. The cancer is now found on both sides of the body, is found in all of the areas previously listed, and can additionally be found in the spine, in various organs, and in sites far from the body including the brain.
As your physicians determine the stage of your disease and identify the appropriate treatment, whether surgical, therapeutic or palliative, it is a good idea to keep all medical records and invoices available for your Mesothelioma attorneys to document as part of any claim you may wish to make for compensation for damages.