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Category Archives: Newly Diagnosed Mesothelioma

How Does Mesothelioma Spread?

April 27, 2011

The majority of patients who die of mesothelioma, treated, or untreated, will die of comlications of the growth of the disease in the cavity (abdomen or chest) it originated in and not from disease that has spread to other parts of the body.


The fluid or liquid that is found in the chest will eventually be replaced by a solid growing tumour. This can lead to breathing difficluties, pnuemonia, or decreased heart function with arrhythmias (funny heartbeats). This increase in solid mass can also lead to severe pain in the chest wall, requiring narcotic medications.

Loss of weight due to poor appetite can also occur. The disease may spread to other parts of the body, but this usually occurs late in the course of the disease. The most frequently involved organs are the liver, the adrenal gland, the kidney, and the opposite lung that is affected.

 What is my prognosis?

This depends on several factors – your age, whether you are male or female (as women tend to do better than men), the size of the tumour when diagnosed and the type, i.e. patients who are diagnosed with the epithelial type of mesothelioma as opposed to the 2 other types tend to have a better advantage.

Also ther are certain blood values that tend to indicate who will have a worse prognosis. For example- if the platelet cell count ( cells that are responsible for making blood clot) is elevated, the hemoglobin (cells that carry oxygen) is low, and the white blood cells (cells that fight infection) are high, these can indicate a poorer prognosis.

Newly Diagnosed Mesothelioma

April 29, 2009



After your initial diagnosis has been confirmed – I.e. from the results of your x-rays, you will be referred to either a medical oncologist, surgeon, or radiation oncologist. He or she will be an expert in treating mesothelioma and may have experience in performing clinical trials and laboratory research.

The specialist who is treating you will need to learn the extent of your disease through a process of ‘staging’. Staging is a process that evaluates the extent of the disease and your specialist will determine treatment options depending on the stage of your mesothelioma. Medical specialists currently use one of three staging systems. Each system measures the different variables.

  • TNM
  •  Butchart
  •  Brigham

The TNM System

The TNM system  – (International Mesothelioma Interest Group staging system) involves evaluation of the tumour itself and consists of the following stages:

1. (T) Stage I – The mesothelioma is localised in the membrane lining of either the left or right chest pleura and   has not spread to lymph nodes.

2. (N) Stage II – The mesothelioma has advanced, spreading from the lining of the chest cavity into the outer lining of the lung and into the diaphragm, or the lung.

3. (M) Stage II – The mesothelioma has spread into the first layer of the chest wall, or the chest cavity behind the breastbone (mediastinum). It may have also advanced to hearts outer layer or to lymph nodes on either side of the chest.

The Butchart System

The Butchart system – is the oldest and most used staging system and divides mesothelioma into four stages.

1. Stage I – The mesothelioma is in the lining of either the left or right lung and may involve the diaphragm on the same side.

2. Stage II – The mesothelioma has invaded the chest wall, oesophagus, heart, or lung lining on both sides and lymph nodes.

3. Stage III – The mesothelioma has penetrated the diaphragm and through the lining of the peritoneum or abdominal cavity.

4. Stage IV – The mesothelioma has advanced to other organs (metastasis).

The Brigham System

The Brigham System – is the most modern staging system but is least used as it is primarily concerned with the option of surgery but mesothelioma is rarely operable.

1. Stage I – The mesothelioma tumour is able to be removed surgically as it has not spread to lymph nodes

2. Stage II – The mesothelioma has spread to the lymph nodes.

3. Stage III – The mesothelioma has penetrated through the chest wall, involving heart, diaphragm, abdominal cavity. Lymph nodes may not be involved.

4. Stage IV – The mesothelioma has advanced to other organs (metastasis).

Your specialist will use the following ‘imaging procedures’ in order to determine which path of ‘staging’ to take in the treatment of your mesothelioma. CT, MRI, and PET scans.