Stage II Mesothelioma
About Stage II Mesothelioma
Cancer is a progressive malignancy which is classified in stages in order to determine the best possible course of treatment. Mesothelioma is diagnosed as being in one of four total stages labeled in accordance to the growth of the tumor(s) and the metastasis of these tumors to various organs and lymph nodes.
Often mesothelioma is not diagnosed until the disease is entering Stage II. Mesothelioma is caused primarily by the patient’s previous exposure to asbestos fibers, which are inhaled and become trapped in the pleural lining of the lungs. These microscopic fibers lay dormant for a long period of time, as the latency period for mesothelioma is generally between 20 and 50 years. These fibers exhibit carcinogenic features, and a diagnosis is rarely made in the first stage of development because the individual has yet to show symptoms of cancer. Stage II refers to the spreading of the malignancy to more than one part of the lungs or a different tissue altogether. This stage can also indicate the continued growth of the tumor itself.
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Diagnosing Stage II Mesothelioma
There are three distinct staging systems that oncologists will use in order to properly stage their patient’s cancer. They are known as the Butchart, TNM, and Brigham systems and their distinctions as they pertain to stage II mesothelioma are listed below.
The Butchart System is perhaps the most widely used when diagnosing the stage of a malignancy in patients. This system considers the size of the tumor and whether or not it has spread from the pleural lining of one lung to the lining of the other lung or to tissue outside the point of origin.
The TNM System determines the stage of the malignancy by the growth and spread of the tumor as well. In the case of mesothelioma, a patient is considered to be in Stage II if the cancer has spread to any other tissue other than the pleural lining, particularly the diaphragm, lymph nodes in the immediate area, or the lung tissue itself.
The Brigham System is used to determine staging based on the possibility of removing the malignancy through a surgical procedure. If mesothelioma has spread to the lymph nodes but can possibly be removed with surgery the patient is considered to be in Stage II.
Stage II Treatment Options
At present there is no cure for mesothelioma and treatment options are limited. Most often this disease is diagnosed only after a patient has entered stage II or later due to its long latency period. The common symptoms of mesothelioma, which include chest pains, swelling of the pleural lining, persistent cough and fatigue are not immediately seen and can mimic the symptoms of other diseases. These factors make removal of the tumor an unlikely option because once Stage II is reached the cancer spreads very quickly to other tissues. If surgery is attempted it will most likely result in removal of much of the cancerous cells in the original location but chemotherapy will be required to combat the spread of the disease in other areas. Historically this has only been met with little success as mesothelioma is characterized by rapid metastasis that is difficult to detect.