Previously published in Examiner
Part 7 of the mesothelioma series
How to determine the severity and the progression of any cancer including mesothelioma
Mesothelioma staging analyzes various factors of the tumor present. It will take into account the size of tumors, the numbers of tumors present, the location of tumors in relation its point of origin, if there are lymph nodes present, and cancer cell formation. They will also predict if the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.
There are 5 cancer-staging classifications:
- In situ – the cancer has remained in its original location, in the same layer of cells – stage 1
- Localized – the cancer stays in the original organ – stage 2
- Regional – the cancer has spread to the nearby organs or lymph nodes – stage 3
- Distant – the cancer has spread to other parts of the body – stage 4
Unknown – not enough information is available to access the cancer at this time.
Besides the above mentioned testing, additional tests such as urine samples, blood tests, tissue samples, and pathology reports will all be used to determine the cancer staging.
The three staging systems in use today are the Butchart system, the TMN system, and the Brigham System. The TMN, surpasses the older Butchart system because it not only measures the size and location of the tumor, it determines lymph node involvement and predicts if the cancer has the ability to travel. The Brigham System will analyze the lymph nodes to determine if surgery will be suitable for the patient at this time.
Staging is very crucial to aid the doctors in determining the proper treatment plan needed in each individual case.
Treatment can mean simply draining the fluid, to provide symptom relief, radiation and chemotherapy, surgery to remove part of, or the whole tumor, or palliative care, when the patient is terminal and no treatment can cure the disease or arrest the disease.
Newer treatments offered today include acupuncture in conjunction with standard treatment, drug therapy, immunotherapy (treating the immune system), Photodynamic therapy (PDT) a type of light therapy designed to destroy the cancer cell with light, gene therapy, and more.
To be continued
For more info on mesothelioma Maggie Kay is a freelance writer from Montreal and is the head researcher and content manager of www.maacenter.org