Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 3

Quick Summary

Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma is an advanced disease stage with metastasis (spreading) outside the primary tumor location. Because the tumor is still contained to one side of the body, stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients still have excellent treatment options that can prevent further metastasis and possibly increase life expectancy.

Pleural Mesothelioma Stage 3 Overview

Most cases of pleural mesothelioma are diagnosed at stage 3 of the disease. In stage 2, symptoms may still be confused with other conditions and a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis may not be reached.

If you’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, here’s what you need to know about this disease stage:

  • Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma is considered an early advanced stage
  • In stage 3, there is metastasis but the mesothelioma remains relatively contained to the initial tumor point
  • The median life expectancy of stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients is 16 months
  • Treatments for stage 3 pleural mesothelioma include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and palliative surgeries
  • Some stage 3 patients may still be eligible for curative surgeries
  • All stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients should seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist with a history of treating stage 3 patients

What is Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma?

A stage 3 pleural mesothelioma diagnosis means that the mesothelioma has spread from its point of origin. The tumors can now be found in nearby tissues, organs, and lymph nodes. Because of lymph node involvement, it’s vital that patients receive treatment that will stop the mesothelioma from spreading to distant sites.

Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma is the second most advanced form of the disease. The tumors now affect the lung, chest wall, heart, abdomen and/or the lymph nodes, but have not spread to the other side of the body.

Doctors use three different staging systems to identify criteria that classify your condition at stage 3 pleural mesothelioma. In general, a stage 3 pleural mesothelioma diagnosis means that the tumor affects your nearby organs, has likely spread to your lymph nodes, and the tumor is no longer resectable (removable by surgery).

By stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, a patient’s symptoms have significantly worsened. The majority of patients will notice a drastic decrease in quality of life by stage 3 because of how far the tumor has metastasized.

What are the Symptoms of Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is known for its delayed onset of symptoms, which don’t develop until 10-50 years after initial asbestos exposure—the one known cause of pleural mesothelioma. Because symptoms develop gradually over a long period of time, it can be difficult for patients to recognize the signs of pleural mesothelioma until stage 3.

By stage 3, patients likely notice a rapid decline in quality of life due to how aggressively cancer has started to spread within the chest cavity. If you have a known history of asbestos exposure and suspect you may have signs of illness.

Here are some common stage 3 pleural mesothelioma symptoms to be aware of:

  • Severe chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath even when not active (dyspnea)
  • Continued fever
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Continued weight loss

Most treatment plans for stage 3 pleural mesothelioma are focused on alleviating some of these more debilitating symptoms. Palliative surgeries help to reduce fluid buildup in the pleura or debulk the tumor. Both of these approaches help to alleviate pressure in the chest and improve breathing.

Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis

The general prognosis for stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients is poor. Though parts of the tumor may still be respectable, the mesothelioma is unlikely to be controlled long-term because of how far it has spread already.

The median life expectancy of stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients is around 16 months.

Despite a poor prognosis, doctors always advise their patients that they can improve their life expectancy and quality of life through a variety of treatments and their own health practices.

Stage 3 Prognosis Update

A prognosis is not a fact, and it can be improved with the right approach. Often, stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients are excellent candidates for clinical trials which test out new treatments. Some of these new treatments can add a few months to a patient’s life expectancy.


If you‘ve been diagnosed with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, it’s also important to get a second opinion on your diagnosis. A second opinion can either confirm or change your diagnosis. A changed diagnoses can present you with alternative treatment options that you didn’t have previously and can lead to an improved prognosis. Whatever the outcome of a second opinion, you’ll at least have peace of mind in knowing you’ve explored all your options.

Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment Options

If after you’ve received a second opinion on your condition and you’ve still been diagnosed with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, then you have a few treatment options you can undergo. However, the goals of these treatment options will vary based on factors like your overall health level, your age, and the intensity of your condition.

Some doctors will not perform curative surgeries on stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients, while others may if the patient is healthy enough and there is a good chance of removing all visible parts of the tumor. To find out how the tumor has spread and whether it is still respectable, doctors will use imaging tests to look inside your chest.

If doctors determine you are still eligible for curative surgery at stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, then you may undergo either an extrapleural pneumonectomy or a pleurectomy with decortication. There is a debate about which one of these procedures is better for the patient’s long-term survival. Decisions about curative surgeries are made on a case by case basis as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach.

If doctors determine you are not eligible for curative surgery, then their treatment goals will shift to palliative care (symptom-relief).

With palliative care, doctors may recommend any of the following treatment approaches or combinations:

  • Chemotherapy: Doctors use chemotherapy as a standard pleural mesothelioma treatment at all stages. Chemotherapy is an anticancer drug taken orally or intravenously over the course of several weeks. It helps slow down disease progression.
  • Radiation Therapy: Patients undergo radiation therapy to help shrink tumors, which can provide substantial symptom-relief. There are different types of radiation therapy that doctors recommend depending on your case.
  • Palliative Surgery: Surgical procedures like a pleurodesis or a thoracentesis alleviate chest pain and shortness of breath by draining fluid buildup from the the chest cavity.
  • Clinical Trials: Researchers are testing out new and novel therapies in clinical trial settings. Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients can undergo these new therapies to give them renewed hope for life-extending treatments. Immunotherapy and gene therapy are two promising new treatment approaches that can benefits stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients.

Compensation for Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Treatments

Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients have important treatment options that involve a multimodal approach to potentially extending their lives. Slowing down disease progression can give patients a longer life with improved quality before it advances to stage 4. Undergoing these stage 3 pleural mesothelioma treatments can mean the difference of several months to live.

Pleural mesothelioma patients are victims of asbestos manufacturers’ negligence. Because of this, patients are usually eligible for legal compensation through claims and lawsuits. Veterans are also eligible for compensation through the VA. Contact our Patient Advocates today if you’ve been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. We will put you in touch with top mesothelioma lawyers who will review your case and can get you the compensation you’re entitled to. Don’t delay in getting the treatments you deserve that can extend your life.

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Sources
  1. The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, “Extrapleural pneumonectomy versus pleurectomy/decortication in the surgical management of malignant pleural mesothelioma: Results in 663 patients.” Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022522307018995. Accessed on December 18, 2017.
  2. General Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, “Extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy/decortication for malignant pleural mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153961/. Accessed on December 18, 2017.
  3. Texas Oncology, “Stage I-III Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://www.texasoncology.com/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/stage-i-iii-malignant-pleural-mesothelioma. Accessed on December 18, 2017.

Last modified: May 7, 2018