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Early Stage Mesothelioma – Stage 1 and 2

Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is the most localized form of pleural mesothelioma. It means that the doctors found mesothelioma in the lining of the lung but could not find any evidence that the tumor cells had spread to other body areas.

What is Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma?

Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is the most localized form of pleural mesothelioma. It means that the doctors found mesothelioma in the lining of the lung but could not find any evidence that the tumor cells had spread to other body areas.

People with stage 1 pleural mesothelioma have the most choices in treatment strategies and the longest chance for survival. Even if the cancer is in the first stage, doctors don’t always just remove the tumor by surgery and assume that no other cancer cells could possibly be elsewhere in the body. This is why stage 1 patients may also be offered chemotherapy and/or radiation to the site where the cancer was removed surgically.

Types of Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma at stage one has two different subdivisions:

  • Stage 1A. Only the parietal layer of the pleura is involved. This is the part of the pleural lining that lines the wall of the thorax but not the lungs themselves.
  • Stage 1B. Only the visceral layer of the pleura is involved. This is the part of the pleural lining that lines the lungs themselves and not the part that covers the thoracic wall.

In both subtypes of stage 1, the goal is to remove all visible signs of cancer and areas of the pleura that might be affected. The potential for cure is great, especially if these people also get radiation to the pleura near where the cancer was located and receive chemotherapy in order to kill any residual cells.

Even though it sounds as though having stage 1 disease is simple to treat with a high level of cure, many of these patients still die from their disease. In fact, the median life expectancy of people with stage 1 disease is 21 months but many people live three years or longer.

Diagnosing Stage 1 Disease

People in stage 1 disease usually have no symptoms. They are found to have their cancer by screening techniques for mesothelioma or by having surgery to treat another condition and mesothelioma is found incidentally at the time of surgery. As this is a rare occurrence, not many people are diagnosed with stage 1 disease.

Treatment of Stage 1 Disease

Those that are fortunate enough to be diagnosed early still face at least one additional surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Mesothelioma requires aggressive treatment, regardless of the stage of the cancer. It is especially used in stage 1 disease because of the chance that aggressive treatment will lead to a much longer lifespan and a greater chance of the patient becoming a survivor.

The treatment to cure the disease may be the pleurectomy with decortication procedure or the more invasive extrapleural pneumonectomy.

While these sound like drastic measures for low stage disease, they are often necessary to have the best chance of living a long time after being diagnosed.

Prognosis

As mentioned, the prognosis of stage 1 mesothelioma is the best of all types of mesothelioma. Even with the best prognosis, few people live longer than 5 years with the disease and many die at less than 3 years after the diagnosis of mesothelioma. While stage 1 disease is considered the least serious, it is important to listen to the mesothelioma specialists when they advise what seems like drastic measures to treat the disease.

What is Stage 2 Pleural Mesothelioma?

Stage 2 mesothelioma means that the cancer has spread from the origin to other areas of the lung tissue or to other parts of the lining of the lung, diaphragm or pericardium.

In stage 2, the cancer is still located on one side of the body and the patient often has few symptoms. If the patient has symptoms, they are usually vague symptoms like cough, chest pain or weight loss. The doctor may not even suspect that there is cancer in the thorax until it is eventually uncovered and identified.

Diagnosis of Stage 2 Disease

A patient with stage 2 mesothelioma may or may not have symptoms. The disease can be diagnosed by a routine screening examination, by having a few symptoms of the disease, or by having surgery to the thorax that accidentally uncovers mesothelioma.

After finding a tumor, the doctors must identify it as being mesothelioma and must do various tests to see where, if anywhere, the cancer has spread.

Treatment of Stage 2 Disease

Even though stage 2 disease is not as severe as other stages of mesothelioma, the treatment is aggressive.

Many people have an extrapleural pneumonectomy or a pleurectomy with decortication procedure to get rid of as many cancer cells as possible. This is often followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments to the thorax in order to kill off any cells that still are mesothelioma cells in the body.

Prognosis

The chances of survival for those people with stage 2 mesothelioma are lower than those with stage 1 disease. Even with the most aggressive surgery and the healthiest patient prior to diagnosis of mesothelioma, the chance exists that the individual will still have mesothelioma cells remaining and will die from their disease.

Others will live for many years after healing from the surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The median life expectancy for those with stage 2 disease is 19 months. This means that half of all people will live shorter than 19 months and half of all patients will live longer than 19 months.

Sources & Author Edited: September 8, 2015

About the Writer

Senior Veteran Support Team

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center was created to provide information and assistance to veterans regarding treatment, clinical trials, and VA benefits for veterans suffering from asbestos illnesses. The MVC was founded by retired veterans and veterans advocates who have helped hundreds of veterans get approved for their VA benefits after developing mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer from their asbestos exposure in the military.

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