Stage I Mesothelioma
Stage I is the first of four stages of mesothelioma cancer. A diagnosis of Stage I mesothelioma means the cancer has not yet begun to progress, and the outlook is significantly better than in later stages. At this point, however, patients usually have no symptoms. For this reason, it is very rare to be diagnosed before the later stages.
If mesothelioma is diagnosed as Stage I, the prognosis is usually hopeful. The cancer is localized and has not yet spread to lymph nodes or other organs, meaning the mesothelioma tumor is present only at the original site. In most of these cases, patients will have various treatment options. Stage I patients are usually eligible for potentially curative treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These options can significantly increase life expectancy, with many Stage I patients living for years after diagnosis.
Symptoms of Stage I Mesothelioma
Symptoms of mesothelioma usually do not appear until the cancer has progressed. In general, individuals with Stage I mesothelioma show no noticeable symptoms of their illness. However, some early indications may be chest or abdominal pain and fatigue.
Treating Stage I Mesothelioma
Stage I mesothelioma can be combated effectively with aggressive treatments. These treatments typically include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Most doctors recommend undergoing two or more treatment types around the same time, a technique known as multimodal therapy.
Treatment of Stage I mesothelioma usually begins with the surgical removal of all visible tumor growth. Some microscopic cancer cells are usually left behind after surgery, so this treatment often is coupled with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or both. The combination of treatments will kill as many remaining cancer cells as possible.
For some individuals, surgery may not be an option. Tumor size, tumor location, type of cell growth and overall health all play a role when your doctor decides if surgery is a good option. If it is deemed that surgery will be unsafe or ineffective, patients normally elect to undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat their mesothelioma.
Prognosis for Stage I Patients
Patients have the best prognosis at Stage I because the cancer is localized. If mesothelioma is diagnosed early, patients usually will respond better to standard treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Younger patients with fewer or less severe symptoms have also been shown to have longer life expectancies.
The stage of pleural mesothelioma in particular can be an indication of life expectancy. According to one study of 131 patients, those diagnosed during Stage I had a median survival of 35 months, as compared to the 5.9-month median survival of Stage IV patients.
Other studies found that the appearance of the pleura can be an indication of life expectancy. In an examination of 12 studies, Stage I was identified by pleura that were normal in appearance or inflamed, and Stage 4 was identified by completely cancerous pleura. The examination of these studies found that Stage I patients had a typical prognosis of 24 months, significantly longer than the 6.9-month typical survival for Stage IV patients.
First Stage of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is very rarely found in its early stages of development. If you have a history of asbestos exposure and believe you are at risk to develop mesothelioma, it is important to have frequent medical examinations. Use the Mesothelioma Center’s complimentary Doctor Match Program to find a specialist in your area.