Mesothelioma is divided in four stages. Stage 1 is the initial stage where the cancer has not spread to any other body part and still at the location of original tumor site. As time passes the cancer starts to spread from the original site to nearby areas and lymph nodes. It is to be noted that that the cancer in Stage 2 is also more or less localized. For example in stage 2 of pleural mesothelioma the cancer spreads from the original location to say lining of chest all, diaphragm, heart sac etc. but it still does not spread to various organs of the body which generally happens in later stages.
While the prognosis of mesothelioma when diagnosed on stage 2 is not as good as in stage 1 but it is still better than later stages.
Symptoms of stage 2 mesothelioma
The symptoms of stage 2 mesothelioma are more prominent than that of stage 1 but are still mild enough to even get unnoticed or misunderstood for other diseases. The general symptoms include weight loss, cough, difficulty in breathing, changes in bowel habits (constipation, etc.), pain (chest pain in case of pleural and pericardial mesothelioma, abdominal pain in case of peritoneal mesothelioma), fever, night sweat, etc.)
It can be noted that many of the above symptoms are very common and either not taken very seriously or can easily be associated with other diseases. It requires experienced doctors to diagnose the disease at this stage. Anyone who was exposed to asbestos in past should for consider the possibility of mesothelioma in case even these common sounding symptoms occur.
Treatment of Stage 2 mesothelioma
There are multiple ways mesothelioma treatment can be carried out in stage 2. One of the most common is surgery. Surgery is still possible in stage 2 (as it was in stage 1) as the cancer growth is still in a contained area and not wide spread. Of course the decision of surgery is taken on a case by case basis after analysing various factors such as – growth, which areas are affected (certain areas may not be operated, overall health of the patient, etc.). The primary aim of the surgery is to remove all visible growth of cancer cells.
Surgery has its limitations in removal of cancer growth. Even after a successful one, infected cells still remain. For these chemotherapy and radiotherapy is used. In many cases both are used together (it is called multimodal therapy then). For patients for which surgery is not an option, these therapies are very critical and one of the best ways to fight cancer.
There is another procedure which is also suggested by doctors for patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma. It is called extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy/decortication.
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy basically involves complete removal of the affected lung, membrane covering the heart, muscles between lungs and abdomen, lining of chest. This is a complex procedure and can only be carried out on patients whose cancer is localized and not infected the lymph nodes, nearby organs, etc. Apart from this, the person needs to be in good health, esp. heart and other lung should be in good condition as removal of one lung puts all pressure on just one lung and heart. The procedure is generally considered a great way to increase life expectancy and quality of life but it should be weighed against potential risks, as much as 6% patients die during of immediately following the procedure.
- Pleurectomy / decortication : This procedure removes the involved pleura and frees the underlying lung so that it can expand and fill the pleural cavity.
Prognosis of Stage 2 mesothelioma patients
The prognosis of stage 2 is generally better than later stages (depends on other factors such as general health, smoking habits, etc.). Based on a research conducted, median survival rates for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma in stage 2 is 16 months. This can vary a lot and some patients live for several years.
One of the most important things for ensuring better prognosis of mesothelioma is early diagnosis. be very careful if you were exposed to asbestos in past while work or otherwise and even at the slightest of the above symptoms contact a specialist doctor for consultation.