Mesothelioma Stage 2
Stage 2 mesothelioma describes cancer that is still contained in one area of the body, but has spread outside the tissue lining the lungs or stomach and into nearby lymph nodes. Stage 2 is still considered an early stage of the disease, and most life-extending surgeries can still be performed. At this stage, patients usually have mild, flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, making stage 2 diagnoses rare.
What Is Stage 2 Mesothelioma?
Stage 2 malignant mesothelioma is the second earliest of the four stages of mesothelioma under the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system. The TNM system is the standard for cancer staging (a method for measuring how far someone’s cancer has progressed) in many countries.
Stage 2 mesothelioma may refer to two types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma: Pleural mesothelioma is the only form of this rare cancer with an official staging system. Doctors use the TNM staging system, describing stage 2 pleural mesothelioma as remaining on one side of the lining of the chest. It has reached nearby lymph nodes on one side of the body and may have spread to the diaphragm or the lung.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: Some doctors may also categorize peritoneal mesothelioma as stage 2 using an unofficial, modified TNM staging system. This system, proposed by Professor Tristan D. Yan, describes stage 2 peritoneal mesothelioma as advancing further than the lining of the abdomen. However, the cancer has not spread past the abdomen or reached the lymph nodes.
Doctors currently do not have sufficient information about pericardial mesothelioma to properly stage it, instead often referring to its progression as early or advanced.
How Stage 2 Mesothelioma Develops
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mesothelioma may take anywhere from 20-50 years to develop. However, once symptoms appear, the disease progresses rapidly.
Stage 2 mesothelioma progresses from stage 1 mesothelioma.
The TNM system describes stage 2 pleural mesothelioma tumor development as:
- In the lining of the chest wall on one side of the chest
- Possibly also in the diaphragm or the lung
- In nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the body as the main tumor
- Not yet spread to distant parts of the body
As mesothelioma progresses from stage 1 to stage 2, patients are more likely to begin experiencing minor symptoms.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Symptoms
Many mesothelioma patients do not notice any symptoms during stage 1 or stage 2 of their illness. When they do experience symptoms, they are often caused by a condition known as pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the chest).
Patients may experience the following stage 2 pleural mesothelioma symptoms:
- Dry, persistent cough
- Mild chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Slight difficulty breathing
However, these symptoms are vague, and unless the patient has told their doctor about a history of asbestos exposure, such symptoms are unlikely to lead to a direct mesothelioma diagnosis.
How to Identify Stage 2 Mesothelioma
It is difficult to recognize stage 2 without diagnostic tools.
Patients have vague symptoms that are common in other less serious illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia. Early-stage mesothelioma is more likely to be discovered by accident in the course of unrelated medical tests or as part of regular cancer screening for a high-risk patient.
However, doctors are more likely to successfully diagnose a patient early if they know about any past exposure to asbestos.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Mesothelioma is not commonly diagnosed at stage 2 because patients often do not experience symptoms or their symptoms are mild and vague.
Doctors often struggle to diagnose mesothelioma at any stage, as most have minimal experience with the rare disease. Also, it is difficult to collect enough tissue from a patient for the many tests needed to tell mesothelioma apart from similar cancers.
Still, stage 2 malignant mesothelioma is easier to detect than stage 1 because of the tumor’s larger size and the increased likelihood that patients will experience pleural effusion.
If either of these signs shows up in a chest X-ray, doctors may investigate further, performing a biopsy that may lead to an early diagnosis.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Prognosis
Doctors use the stage of a patient’s disease at diagnosis to determine their prognosis, which is how the cancer is expected to progress.Typically, the earlier the stage, the better the prognosis might be.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Life expectancy is the average amount of time, often measured in months, that a patient is expected to live after diagnosis.
According to a mesothelioma review published in West Virginia Medical Journal, the average survival time for malignant mesothelioma is 6-13 months overall and 6-18 months with treatment. Stage 2 patients can expect to live on the higher end of this range.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Survival Rate
The mesothelioma survival rate measures the percentage of people with the disease who survive for a specified amount of time.
Stage 2 mesothelioma patients experience higher than average survival rates for both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.
A patient’s mesothelioma stage at diagnosis is one of the biggest factors influencing their disease outlook. Stage 1 and 2 mesothelioma tumors are often resectable (surgically removable), allowing patients to undergo the most effective treatment options and increase their life expectancy by months or even years.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Treatment
Stage 2 treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or new treatments through clinical trials.
The optimal treatment approach for many stage 2 patients is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Stage 2 mesothelioma is usually able to be surgically removed so that no visible parts of the tumor remain. By undergoing mesothelioma surgery, patients can extend their lives by months or even years and increase the effectiveness of other treatments like chemotherapy.
However, not all stage 2 patients are good candidates for surgery.
Doctors may consider the following factors to decide if a patient can undergo surgery:
- Stage: Small, localized (contained in one area) tumors are easier to surgically remove.
- Cell type: Unfortunately, only epithelioid and mixed/biphasic cell tumors are resectable.
- Location: If a tumor is too close to a vital organ, it may be too dangerous to surgically remove it.
- Patient health: Mesothelioma surgery is often dangerous and very hard on a patient’s body. Doctors will carefully assess a patient’s health to determine how likely they are to survive or properly recover from an operation.
If a patient is a good surgery candidate, they have a few options depending on the type of mesothelioma they have and a doctor’s individual assessment.
Common stage 2 mesothelioma surgery options include:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
- Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D)
- Cytoreduction with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
While surgery can remove a good deal of the mesothelioma tumors in a patient’s body, cancer cells remain that a surgeon cannot see. However, these cells may be destroyed with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy, cancer-killing medicines that are given intravenously, is a popular treatment option for stage 2 mesothelioma patients, especially combined with surgery.
Doctors may use chemotherapy on stage 2 mesothelioma patients to:
- Stop cancer cells from spreading before, during, or after surgery
- Destroy any cancer cells doctors cannot surgically remove
- Treat patients who are not medically fit for surgery
While mesothelioma chemotherapy and surgery is often an effective treatment combination during stage 2, a three-treatment approach of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may lead to the best results for both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients.
Radiation therapy uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells. This treatment is an important part of the multi-treatment approach many doctors turn to for stage 2 mesothelioma.
Radiation therapy may help treat stage 2 mesothelioma by:
- Killing cells that remain after surgery
- Making surgery easier by shrinking tumors beforehand
- Keeping doctors from accidentally spreading cancer cells during surgery
While a three-treatment approach works well for many stage 2 mesothelioma patients, other treatment options are available for the many who are not able to get standard treatment.
Other Treatment Options
Stage 2 mesothelioma patients are usually good candidates for the most effective standard treatments. However, factors like mesothelioma cell type and individual health may bar even early-stage patients from undergoing such invasive treatments.
For these patients, experimental treatments through clinical trials may be a good option. Clinical trials test the newest medicines and therapies in an effort to improve or expand current treatment options.
Emerging mesothelioma treatments may include:
- Gene therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
Patients should keep the stage of their mesothelioma in mind when searching for clinical trials. Many trials restrict patients by cancer stage.
Improving Your Prognosis
While the biggest factors affecting stage 2 mesothelioma prognosis are often out of a patient’s control, they can still take action to give themselves the best prognosis possible.
The following actions may improve a stage 2 mesothelioma prognosis:
- Eating well: Nutrition is essential for a strong immune system and a quick and complete recovery after invasive treatments like surgery and chemotherapy.
- Exercising: Exercise has several health benefits, including lowering stress, improving blood flow, and helping prevent secondary health issues like bedsores.
- Managing stress: Stress can negatively affect health by increasing blood pressure, causing sleep problems, and other issues. This may slow treatment recovery and decrease quality of life.
- Not smoking: Smoking negatively affects overall patient health and may even disqualify a patient from certain treatments. It may also increase the chance of another cancer diagnosis, such as lung cancer.
- Seeking life-extending treatment: For many mesothelioma patients, life-extending treatments are simply not an option because their cancer is already too advanced. However, stage 2 patients are often good candidates for such treatments.
Stage 2 mesothelioma patients should take advantage of their early diagnosis and seek life-extending treatments as soon as possible.
Hopefully, as new studies shed light on better treatment methods, mesothelioma patients at all stages will continue to see their survival rates increase.
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)