Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma Explained
More patients are diagnosed with stage 3 mesothelioma than any other stage. Patients with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma are still potential candidates for surgery. Surgery can remove tumors and prevent further spreading. Treatments for stage 3 mesothelioma can also reduce pain, manage symptoms, and improve quality of life.
Stage 3 Mesothelioma Definition
Stage 3 is the second to last stage of mesothelioma. In this stage, the mesothelioma has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body, including the chest wall or the pericardium (heart covering).
Stage 3 may also reveal that the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. But mesothelioma that spreads to more distant sites, like the collarbone or lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, is considered stage 4.
Because stage 3 mesothelioma hasn’t yet spread to the other side of the chest, it is still considered somewhat local even though it has metastasized.
Stage 3 Symptoms
Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma symptoms are severe. This is why the majority of cases are diagnosed at this stage. Symptoms in stage 3 result from increased tumor growth, which creates fluid buildup and inflammation in the pleura. Swelling in the chest causes a feeling of restriction and leads to difficulty breathing.
Other common symptoms associated with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma include:
- Worsened chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Noticeable weight loss
Even though by stage 3 the symptoms have worsened, they can still be confused with symptoms of pulmonary infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Discuss any history of asbestos exposure as soon as possible with your doctor to prevent a misdiagnosis. This can help you to receive life-saving treatment.
Stage 3 Treatments
Though stage 3 mesothelioma is considered an advanced stage, there are still treatment options for patients. Typically, the goal with stage 3 treatments is to improve quality of life. This is done through palliative therapies that relieve pain. In some cases, this may include chemotherapy or radiation.
Depending on the patient’s overall health, surgery may still be an option. A surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) can remove tumors and prevent the mesothelioma from spreading further.
With an EPP, surgeons remove the lung linings, the lung, the nearby lymph nodes, and part of the diaphragm. This can help extend life expectancy by preventing the mesothelioma from advancing into the last stage of mesothelioma.
If you are eligible, surgeries in stage 3 can also be supported with chemotherapy or radiation to shrink tumors and kill remaining cancer cells. This multimodal treatment plan can improve your life expectancy by several months or even years in some cases.
Stage 3 Prognosis
Because treatment options in stage 3 are limited, the prognosis is considered poor. The survival rates in stage 3 mesothelioma range between 12 and 24 months, although life expectancy can be improved with treatments. Other factors like age, gender, and overall health also influence life expectancy at this stage.
In stage 3, it’s important to consider getting a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist. A specialist can confirm your diagnosis or provide you with new information about your disease that other doctors may have missed. Oftentimes, a second opinion can present you with other treatment options that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
Another option in stage 3 is clinical trials. Clinical trials provide emerging treatments that can improve your life expectancy. Talk to your health care team today about available clinical trials you may qualify for.