Stage 2 Mesothelioma
When determining the extent and nature of any kind of cancer including mesothelioma - which in turn, plays a large part in designing an appropriate course of mesothelioma treatment - oncologists use a rubric or "staging" system. This is only one of the criteria by which malignancies are classified, the first of which is determined by the location of the tumor and the third of which is determined by the cellular structure (or lack thereof).
Staging assists the oncologist in determining how far the mesothelioma cancer has advanced and how treatable the patient's malignancy really is.
Although there are three distinct staging systems currently in use, all three are based on four primary stages:
- The tumor is confined to one organ or region and is relatively small.
- The tumor has grown in size, and has spread to one other tissue.
- The tumor has spread to adjacent areas.
- The tumor has spread to distant areas of the body, or "metastasized."
The Butchart System is the oldest rubric used by oncologists, and is employed only in cases of pleural Mesothelioma. The tumor's Butchart classification primarily describes the size of the tumor. Under this rubric, the tumor has spread from its point of origin to the other side of the body, or to an adjacent tissue such as the pericardium.
TNM stands for Tumor, Lymph Nodes, and Metastasis. This is a fairly new rubric that is also used in staging malignant mesothelioma. This system describes not only the size of the tumor, but also the extent of metastasis and whether or not the lymph nodes are involved.
In TNM Stage 2, the cancer may have spread to adjacent tissues such as the diaphragm and/or the pericardial lining; however, the main criterion is that it has by this point affected the lymph nodes.
The Brigham System is the most recently developed rubric for use with mesothelioma diagnosis. Under Stage 2 of this particular system, the tumor is still operable ("resectable"), but has spread to the lymph nodes.
In most cases, mesothelioma is not detected until it has reached Stage 3 or 4 - by which time a mesothelioma cure or a mesothelioma remission is not likely and all that can be done is attempt to make the patient more comfortable.
The new MESOMARK™ diagnostic test may enable pathologists to detect the disease at earlier stages, however. Recently approved for use in the U.S. by the FDA, this test was developed by a Japanese biotech firm and is reportedly able to detect the early biological markers of malignant mesothelioma. At Stage 1, the tumor can usually be removed via mesothelioma surgery; radiation and mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments are used to follow up in order to get rid of any traces of malignancy.
Cancer Guide. "Understanding Cancer Types and Staging." Cancerguide.org, March 2009, http://cancerguide.org/basic.html
Dodson, R. and Hammar, S. Asbestos: Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, and Health Effects. (Boca Raton:Taylor & Francis, 2006.)
Galateau-Salle, Francoise. Pathology of Malignant Mesothelioma. (London: Springer-Verlag London Limited, 2006.)