Stage III Mesothelioma
Unlike the first two stages of mesothelioma, Stage III is considered to be an advanced stage of cancer development – and this greatly affects treatment options. Symptoms at this stage can present frequent pain and there are only a few treatments that can provide relief. Because of the limited amount of treatments available, coupled with the fact that there is no mesothelioma cure, prognosis is not typically favorable for Stage III patients. Learning more about the definition, symptoms, treatment options, prognosis and resources for Stage III mesothelioma helps patients comprehend their condition and make important decisions.
Stage III mesothelioma is defined by how far the cancer has spread from its original location. For example, Stage III pleural mesothelioma can be noted by a local invasion of tumors in the chest wall. A small invasion of tumors in the lining of the heart may also designate Stage III mesothelioma. If the lymph glands or abdominal cavity on the same side of the initial tumor has been affected, a doctor will likely confirm a Stage III diagnosis.
Symptoms of Stage III Mesothelioma
By the time mesothelioma progresses to Stage III, symptoms may consistently affect breathing and cause severe pain. Stage III patients often experience more coughing and shortness of breath than patients with Stage I or II, even while resting. Since the cancer, at this stage, has spread beyond its initial location of development, symptoms may be felt in other areas of the body. For example, Stage III pleural mesothelioma may include both chest pain and abdominal pain, if the cancer has spread to the abdomen. Small bowel obstruction is a symptom noted by a small percentage of late-stage peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
Treating Stage III Mesothelioma
Stage III mesothelioma will significantly affect the amount of treatment options available to a patient. The tumor spreading associated with Stage III is the factor that makes treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy difficult or minimally effective. Although this stage of mesothelioma typically disqualifies patients from surgical consideration, some Stage III cases are still candidates for surgical removal of a bulk tumor. Surgery may be preceded or followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to promote the death of more cancerous cells.
Since Stage III patients typically do not qualify for surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to relieve symptoms and potentially extend life expectancy. In one study, only six of 30 Stage III patients failed to show improvement in chest pain and coughing after a chemotherapy and radiation therapy regimen. For most Stage III cases, treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prolong survival.
Prognosis for Stage III Patients
Stage III mesothelioma patients typically have a short prognosis, ranging anywhere from a few months to more than a year after diagnosis. Prognosis for Stage III cases is generally poor because there are very few treatment options available that could significantly extend life expectancy. Surgery, which can sometimes improve prognosis, is not always recommended for patients with Stage III mesothelioma because of the extent of the cancer and the difficulty of removing all the tumors.
It is important to remember that each mesothelioma case is different. Only a mesothelioma specialist can provide a prognosis for each patient’s individual case. There have been a number of mesothelioma survivors who have outlived their prognosis and serve as a source of hope for other patients and their families.