Mesothelioma has levels of severity very similar to other lung cancer stages. Generally these are labeled 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th stages. Stage 1 means there is a tumor present. In stage 2 the lymph nodes may be involved. By stage 3 the tumor has spread outside its initial location, and by stage 4 it is spreading itself through the bloodstream (metastasized).
The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on what stage your mesothelioma has reached and your general health condition. Once the disease has entered the fourth stage, it is considered terminal, and your medical team will recommend palliative care to help you be as comfortable as possible.
Living with mesothelioma at any stage can be extremely challenging. Gather as much information and sound advice as you can from experienced medical professionals, spiritual and/or emotional advisors, and a qualified mesothelioma attorney. And remember, research and clinical trials are always trying new approaches and ideas. Trust your doctor and your attorney to help you find new ways to treat your mesothelioma.
Lung cancer treatment
Since mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer, treatment will be similar in many cases. Traditional treatment in Western medicine usually consists of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination. Especially for the first stage, surgery is considered the strongest weapon against the disease.
Surgical options for lung cancer treatment include the following:
- Mediastinoscopy - finding out if the tumor has spread by taking samples of airway lymph nodes using a minimally invasive technique
- Thoracoscopy - diagnosing and treating through a small incision in the chest, also considered minimally invasive
- Wedge resection - taking a small section of lung tissue
- Segmentectomy - taking out a segment of one lung
- Lobectomy - removing an entire lobe of one lung (your right lung has 3, your left has 2)
- Sleeve resection - taking out a piece of your airway (may involve also removing a piece of your lung) and rejoining the ends
- Pneumonectomy - taking out one entire lung
Radiation may be done before or after surgery and can be combined with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, given by mouth or intravenously (through a needle drip) is also a common lung cancer treatment because it can help radiation be more effective. Photodynamic therapy is sometimes used in early stages to kill cancer cells and in later stages to help clear the patient's airways.
Your medical team may also introduce you to non-traditional treatment, which may be complementary or alternative. Don't hesitate to ask your physician to give you information about these options if you are not satisfied with the results of traditional approaches. Your doctor will explain and recommend the best treatments for each of the mesothelioma lung cancer stages.
Lung cancer symptoms
Your mesothelioma lung cancer symptoms may not be exactly the same as another person's. Coughing and difficulty breathing are some of the earliest signs. Untreated, mesothelioma progresses very rapidly into later lung cancer stages and may include symptoms such as chest pain and swelling in the chest or abdomen.
Statistics on life expectancy for mesothelioma are not reliable and vary by the stage of the disease. Those with 1st stage can live 2 years or more. Average survival time for the 4th stage is about 10 months. The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor today, but it is expected to improve as researchers continue to aggressively seek new methods of treatment.
It's important to keep yourself informed—and you can count on us at Hendlerlaw to help you be in touch with all the latest developments in medical research including clinical trials you may be eligible for. If you've been diagnosed with mesothelioma, don't hesitate to call us for support and assistance. Call us 24/7 at 800.443.6353.