Resources for Patients and their Families

Stage 1 Mesothelioma

Stage 1 mesothelioma is the earliest stage of the disease, in which the tumor is confined to a specific area and has not yet spread to other parts of the body. Very few mesothelioma cases are caught at Stage 1, but those which are typically live for about 21 months or longer.

As with other cancers, mesothelioma is categorized using a four-tiered staging system that indicates the severity and development of the disease. At Stage 1, mesothelioma has begun to develop, and usually the individual has very few noticeable symptoms.

The three staging systems used to classify mesothelioma have similar, but slightly different, definitions of Stage 1 mesothelioma:

Butchart System

The tumor is on one side and is limited to one area of the mesothelium. It may also be found in the diaphragm, but only on one side.

TNM System

The tumor is on one side of the pleura or pericardium only and may have spread to the lung or diaphragm on the same side. No lymph node involvement.

Brigham System

The tumor is can be operated on for removal. Catching the disease in Stage 1 is rare, due to the extremely long latency period.

Stage 1 is sometimes separated into Stage 1a and Stage 1b, depending on which layer of the mesothelium the disease develops.

Stage I Mesothelioma Illustration

Stage 1 Mesothelioma Symptoms

In most cases, Stage 1 mesothelioma symptoms are relatively minor, as the tumor has not started to spread. In later stages of the disease, symptoms will become more pronounced.

The most common Stage 1 mesothelioma symptoms are:

  • Body aching
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • General discomfort in the chest
  • Fever

Prognosis of Stage 1 Mesothelioma

Of the four stages of mesothelioma, the first stage has the best prognosis, although it can still have a pretty poor prognosis. The life expectancy of patients diagnosed with Stage 1 mesothelioma is usually 21 months or greater.

The actual life expectancy of a particular mesothelioma patient can depend greatly on the specifics of their diagnosis, including the cell type (histology), location, and size of the tumor, as well as the patient’s gender, age, and environmental risk factors.

Stage 1 Mesothelioma Treatment Options

With Stage 1 mesothelioma, treatment can often be more aggressive, since the disease in the early stages and patients are generally have better overall health. In such instances, the treatment plan often involves a multimodal approach that includes surgery along with chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Palliative care is not typically the first form of treatment for Stage 1. However, in cases where palliative therapy is deemed necessary, these treatments can provide relief from symptoms by reducing discomfort and pain.


Surgery is a good option for many Stage 1 mesothelioma patients. Most commonly, this involves removal of the lining of the lungs or abdomen where the tumor develops.


Chemotherapy destroys fast-growing cancer cells. This kills cancer left behind after the surgery, helping to reduce the overall risk of recurrence.


Radiation therapy helps to inhibit the spread of mesothelioma cells, and usually yields positive results for Stage I mesothelioma patients.

Experimental Treatments and Clinical Trials

In Stage 1, mesothelioma patients are generally good candidates to participate in clinical trials. Some experimental treatments tested in these trials – such as immunotherapy, cryotherapy, and gene therapy – have shown to be extraordinarily effective with patients who have early-stage mesothelioma.

Finding a suitable clinical trial is perhaps one of the best ways that patients diagnosed with Stage 1 mesothelioma can improve their chances of survival. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage, contact a cancer center to learn more about what trials are available and how they may be able to help.

Financial Assistance for Stage 1 Mesothelioma

Although Stage 1 mesothelioma offers the best chances of survival, there can still be a lot of costs involved in diagnosis, treatment, and related procedures. Other financial burdens can come from the loss of wages or other income due to time taken from work or even permanent disability due to the diagnosis.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there may be options for you to have your treatment costs and related expenses covered. Contact us to understand what types of financial assistance are available to you.

View Sources


Cao C., et al. Staging of patients after extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma—institutional review and current update. Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. 2011;12(5): 754-757. doi: 10.1510/icvts.2010.262972

Dodson R. and Hammar S. Asbestos: Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, and Health Effects. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis; 2006.

Galateau-Salle F. Pathology of Malignant Mesothelioma. London: Springer-Verlag London Limited; 2006.

Heelan RT, et al. Staging of malignant pleural mesothelioma: comparison of CT and MR imaging. American Journal of Roentgenology. 1999;172(4):1039-1047. doi: 10.2214/ajr.172.4.10587144

Rusch VW, Venkatraman E. The importance of surgical staging in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Journal of Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery. 1996;111(4): 815-825.

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