Stage 3 Mesothelioma

Oncologists and mesothelioma doctors use a rubric or “staging” system when determining the extent and nature of any kind of cancer, including mesothelioma. This is only one of the standards 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 mesothelioma cell types.

Staging assists the oncologist in determining the rate of progression of the asbestos cancer and how to best design a course of treatment specific to the patient's malignancy.

Although there are three distinct staging systems currently in use, all three are based on four primary mesothelioma stages:

  • In stage 1 mesothelioma, the tumor is confined to one organ or region and is relatively small.

  • In stage 2 mesothelioma, the tumor has grown in size, and has spread to one other tissue.

  • In stage 3 mesothelioma, the tumor has spread to adjacent areas.

  • In stage 4 mesothelioma, the tumor has spread to distant areas of the body, or “metastasized.”

Butchart System

This is the oldest system used by oncologists, and is used only for patients diagnosed with the pleural variety of mesothelioma. In Stage 3, the cancer has spread from the pleural lining to the abdomen. The entire lymphatic system may also be involved at this point.

TMN System

TNM stands for Tumor, Lymph Nodes, and Metastasis. This is a newer method which is usually employed for staging malignant pleural mesothelioma, although it is also used for peritoneal mesothelioma as well.

Under Stage 3 of this system, the cancer has metastasized from the pleural lining into the heart, ribs, esophagus, and other vital organs. At this point, the lymphatic system has definitely been affected.

Brigham System

This is the newest staging system, which was developed especially for use in cases of mesothelioma. Under Stage 3 of the Brigham System, the cancer is inoperable due to its spread into other areas. Tumors may be located in inaccessible areas, or may be too widespread. In addition, the cancer has affected the lymphatic system.


By the time the disease has reached Stage 3, the mesothelioma prognosis is grim. Even if the primary tumor can be removed, cancer cells have most likely spread to other areas, and a mesothelioma remission or mesothelioma cure is not probable. At this point, palliative treatments that can reduce pain and make the patient more comfortable during his/her final days are the generally the only viable options.

View Sources


Cancer Guide. "Understanding Cancer Types and Staging.", March 2009,

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.)

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