What is Cancer Staging?
If you suffer from mesothelioma, you may have heard about the “stages” of cancer. But just what is cancer staging, and why is it important?
Cancer staging is the method used to rate the severity and extent of cancer at the time of diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute. Using the results from X-rays, PET or CAT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, and/or biopsies, doctors consider several questions to determine cancer staging, such as:
- What is the size of the tumor, and how many tumors are there?
- Has the cancer spread to surrounding tissues?
- Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes?
- Has the cancer spread to other areas of the body?
Why is Cancer Staging Important?
Cancer staging gives health care professionals a common language to communicate with you and among themselves as they:
- Plan appropriate treatments
- Estimate your prognosis
- Identify clinical trials for which you may qualify
Cancer Staging: What Are the Stages of Mesothelioma?
Cancer staging systems vary, depending on the type and location of cancer. Following is the cancer staging system commonly used to describe mesothelioma, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Stage I: In this stage, cancer is localized, meaning it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Stage I mesothelioma may be found in the lining of the chest wall on one side and may also be found in the lining between the lungs, the lining that covers the diaphragm, and/or the lining that covers the lung.
Stage II: Mesothelioma is classified as stage II if the cancer has spread beyond the linings into the diaphragm or lung.
Stage III: In stage III mesothelioma, cancer may have spread to one or more of the following:
- Nearby lymph nodes
- Tissue between the ribs and the lining of the chest wall
- Fat in the cavity between the lungs
- Tissues of the chest wall
- The sac that covers the heart
Stage IV: In stage IV mesothelioma, cancer may have spread to:
- Lymph nodes anywhere in the chest or above the collarbone
- The peritoneum (a thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen and covers most abdominal organs)
- The chest wall and/or rib
- Organs in the center of the chest cavity
- The sac around the heart or into the heart muscle.
- Other areas of the body, such as the brain, spine, thyroid, or prostate
If you have cancer as the result of asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact a mesothelioma lawyer today to protect your legal rights.