Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the lungs. It is a result of asbestos exposure. But symptoms often do not appear for years after exposure.
After a diagnosis, the doctor will want to determine the stage of the disease, which means how far it has progressed. Knowing the stage will allow your healthcare team to determine the best steps for treatment.
To determine the stage of mesothelioma, your doctor will consider three factors. The first is whether it has spread to other parts of your body. Also, they will consider how far away from the original location the cancer spread. The second factor is the size of your tumor. The last is whether it is in your lymph nodes.
Only pleural mesothelioma has staging currently. There are six stages in total. The lowest stage is IA, and the highest is IV. At the lowest level, there is no spread, and the tumor is at a manageable level where surgery can likely remove it. At stage IV, there is spread to various organs further away from the lungs. There are can be any size tumor, and it may or may not be in the lymph nodes. It is the spreading to far organs that makes this the most severe level. Keep in mind that staging is much more complex than boiling it down to the tumor size and spread. These are just general definitions. Only a doctor can properly provide staging details.
Your doctor will use staging to determine the prognosis. It may also impact treatment options. Generally, though, the first step is determining if surgery can remove the tumor, which could help reduce the severity of the situation.