As there is no current known cure for mesothelioma, treatment options in all stages are generally targeted at making patients comfortable and extending their quality of life. In order to do this, doctors must first determine a mesothelioma prognosis so they can figure out what treatment regimen is appropriate for a patient.
The mesothelioma prognosis, or outlook, is a doctor’s estimation of how long and how comfortably a patient can expect to live. While there are no guarantees, the right combination of palliative treatments can improve a patient’s mesothelioma prognosis over time.
Mesothelioma Prognosis: What are Mesothelioma Stages?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) defines mesothelioma staging as the process of determining how far a cancer has spread, an important first step in determining a mesothelioma prognosis. A mesothelioma prognosis and treatment at each stage depends on how far the illness has spread or metastasized. Doctors will determine what stage of the disease a patient is currently in by conducting tests such as a physical exam, biopsies and imaging tests.
The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM staging system is the most commonly used system by mesothelioma doctors when determining a pleural mesothelioma prognosis and diagnosis. The letters indicate three separate pieces of information, defined by ACS as follows:
- T indicates the extent of spread of the main (primary) tumor.
- N describes how much the cancer has spread to nearby (regional) lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped collections of immune system cells to which cancers often spread first.
- M indicates whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body. (The most common sites are the pleura on the other side of the body, the lungs, and the peritoneum.)
Numbers or letters appear after T, N, and M to provide more details about each of these factors. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced, and usually coincide with a less optimistic mesothelioma prognosis.
Mesothelioma Prognosis: Getting Legal Help
If you or a loved one have received a mesothelioma prognosis, are currently undergoing treatment, and think that the diagnosis has been caused by asbestos exposure, there may be legal action you can take. Speak to a mesothelioma attorney at Sokolove Law today.