Stages of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a complex disease that can be difficult to manage. Over time, doctors have discovered that dividing the progression and treatment of the pleural form of the disease into distinct phases allows them and their patients to better determine the correct treatment according to the mesothelioma stages.
Staging is the process of characterizing the patient’s condition based upon the spread of the cancer and the location of tumor masses within the body. The patient’s treatment and prognosis are then determined based upon the current stages of the mesothelioma. Data from physical exams, biopsies and internal medical imaging (CT scans, etc.) are combined to determine the patient’s stage.
Three staging systems exist for the management of pleural mesothelioma: the Butchart System, the TNM System (Tumor-Node-Metastasis), and the Brigham System. Each of these staging systems has its strengths and weaknesses, and a given case may be staged in terms of more than one system.
These systems allow doctors to determine how much time the patient has remaining, which treatments (if any) will allow him or her to extend that time, and the best methods by which to manage pain and loss of function as the disease progresses.