Like all cancers, Mesothelioma also has been divided into stages. Medical science has divided it in 4 stages. These stages also indicate the progression of cancer into the body. Stage 1 and Stage 2 are considered to be stages where the cancer is in initial stage and is localized. Situation changes when mesothelioma reaches Stage 3. This is considered to be advanced stage of mesothelioma.
Stage 3 is generally identified based on how much nearby organs have been affected by the cancer. For example, in stage 3, cancer spreads to other vital organs such as – the abdomen, heart, ribs, esophagus, from pleural lining. The lymphatic system is also for sure affected in stage 3 of mesothelioma.
Symptoms of stage 3 mesothelioma
Symptoms of mesothelioma are severe in stage 3. Some of the key symptoms are:
- Breathing problems with severe pain in chest
- Shortness of breath and coughing
- Other organs where cancer has spread may also witness severe pain, e.g. abdomen, esophagus, etc.
Treatment of mesothelioma stage 3
As mesothelioma progresses, the treatment options and their effectiveness gets limited. As in Stage 3, the cancer has already spread to other organs, it is very difficult to remove it with surgery, while there are a few cases where it is possible. For example in case of pleural mesothelioma treatment using surgery may require – removal of the pleura or removal of the entire lung – most patients' poor health do not allow them to undergo such extensive surgeries as they can prove to be fatal.
Chemotherapy and radiation remain options for treatment of mesothelioma in stage 3
- Radiation therapy : radiation therapy involves killing or damaging cancer cells using radiation. This works well in Stage 1 and Stage 2 of mesothelioma but not in stage 3 because as the cancer spreads, to do an effective radiation therapy, large parts of body have to be covered which leads to damage of health cells, tissues and organs.
- Chemotherapy : Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment. Unlike radiation therapy which is localized, chemotherapy drugs travel all across the body and kill cancer cells where ever they are (even far from origination).
There are various treatment methods under trial and testing: Immunotherapy with interferon, Photodynamic Therapy, using Hyperthermia for effective chemotherapy, Intra-pleural chemotherapy, and many more.
Prognosis of Stage 3 mesothelioma patients
Prognosis for Stage 3 of mesothelioma is poor. This is because as the cancer has already reached other organs and started affecting them. Another reason is that treatments at this stage are limited and more to ease the pain / symptoms of the patient then treatment itself. The prognosis is generally short – from a few months to an year. There are various factors which play important part here including overall health of the patient, extent of cancer spread, etc.
While little can be done at this advance stage of mesothelioma, each case has been found to be different. Depression at this stage can worsen the case. Apart from the usual chemotherapy and radiation therapy to ease symptoms, patients can also enrol for trials of new treatments which being explored by medical scientists. Some of them have been found to be beneficial for few patients.