Mesothelioma death stages develops in the mesothelial lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Though it can develop in other parts of the body, these are the most common places to find the cancerous tumors. There are five stages of mesothelioma and each stage has its own characteristics and treatment plans that may include radiation, chemotherapy or surgery to remove the tumors. If you want to learn more about mesothelioma death stages and what to expect, keep reading below. Let’s get started!
Stage 1: Asbestos exposure
If you were exposed to asbestos, you could be at risk for developing mesothelioma. Exposure may come from a variety of sources, such as: • Your workplace; • Your home; and, • Other environmental sources. Symptoms will vary depending on the stage of the cancer, but may include shortness of breath and persistent coughs. Stage 2: Cancer has spread outside the chest cavity: The cancer will have started to spread outside the chest cavity by this point in time.
Stage 2: Disease Spreads
Stage 2 is when the mesothelioma has started to spread from its original site, and may be detected in other parts of the body. These symptoms can include: chest pain or discomfort; shortness of breath; dry cough; persistent fatigue or weight loss. If you are experiencing any of these, please contact your doctor for an evaluation. The good news is that it’s still early enough that there are many treatment options available, including surgery and chemotherapy. The bad news is that there may be some long-term side effects associated with this stage of cancer treatment. It’s important to know what they are so you can plan accordingly.
Stage 3: Symptoms Worsen
The tumor cells grow and spread in Stage 3. Patients may experience increased difficulty breathing, fluid build up in the chest area, pain in the chest area or abdomen, and indigestion or heartburn. It is important for patients with Stage 3 cancer to see a doctor immediately if they experience any of these symptoms so that their condition can be monitored closely. It is also important to note that this stage does not have curative treatments; treatments at this point are aimed at relieving the symptoms caused by mesothelioma.
In Stage 4, patients are often too sick or weak to take care of themselves due to anemia (low red blood cell count) caused by their tumors feeding on healthy blood cells. They will also likely have enlarged lymph nodes as well as generalized swelling caused by excess fluids accumulating in their body.
Stage 4: Surgery
Surgery is the only treatment that has been proven effective for mesothelioma. Surgery can typically be performed either through a thoracotomy or thoracoscopy, which involves making an incision in your chest or abdomen and removing the tumor. During surgery, your surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible, but sometimes this is not enough. If cancer cells are still visible on your lung tissue after surgery (called residual disease), a second surgery may be required. However, if you have stage 4 lung cancer without evidence of spread to other parts of the body and you have no symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue, then you may decide not to undergo any further treatment because it’s unlikely to extend your life.
Stage 5: Palliative care
At this point, there is little that doctors can do for you besides provide some relief from your symptoms. Your healthcare team will do everything they can to make sure you are as comfortable and pain-free as possible. You may need chemotherapy or radiation therapy at this stage. You may be given a feeding tube so you can eat if your mouth and throat muscles no longer work.
A good hospice care provider should be able to help you with many things, including ensuring the comfort of family members who want to spend time with the dying person in their final days.
The most important thing for those at Stage 5 is that their wishes about end-of-life care are known and followed by family members or caregivers.
As you’ve seen, mesothelioma has a few different stages. Even if the cancer has been caught early, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy to treat. As many as 75% of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma won’t survive past five years after diagnosis. However, it’s important not to give up and always get a second opinion before taking any treatment that your doctor recommends.