Mesothelioma: Stage 2

Stage 2 mesothelioma is a bit more serious than stage 1 mesothelioma. At this stage, the cancer cells have begun spreading to lymph nodes and nearby tissues.

There are still plenty of treatment options at this stage. 

What Does Stage 2 Mesothelioma Look Like? 

Stage 1 mesothelioma shows the development of small tumors in the lining of the lungs. Once mesothelioma progresses to stage 2, these tumors may still be small, but the cells are now beginning to spread to lymph nodes located in the root of the lungs. Tumors may also begin developing in the lining of the chest cavity. 

In stage 1 cancer, there is no spreading of the tumors or cancer cells to the lymph nodes. This is what makes stage 2 cancer unique. 

There are multiple treatment options for this stage of mesothelioma including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Often, the treatment method is a combination of all three of these treatment options. 

If patients qualify for surgery, they are much more likely to extend their life expectancy. There are also several experimental clinical trials that are also available to both stage 1 and stage 2 patients. 

Symptoms of Stage 2 Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is difficult to detect, and this is in part because symptoms do not always present themselves. Usually, the symptoms are rather minor and can usually be explained by some other less serious medical condition. 

These symptoms include but are not limited to chronic coughing, slight breathing issues, and minor chest pain. Patients with stage 2 mesothelioma also can develop a fever, but that is less common. 

The symptoms often mimic other more common illnesses like the flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. 

These symptoms arise when cancerous cells build up to form a tumor. This tumor can constrict the lung which develops fluid in the lung lining and also causes pain. While this is more common in stage 3 and 4 mesothelioma, it is possible in stage 2 mesothelioma. 

Diagnosing Stage 2 Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose for several reasons. First, it takes 20-50 years to develop mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that is poisonous when ingested or inhaled. The dust or fibers can settle into the lungs, causing inflammation and fluid buildup that leads to mesothelioma. 

Another reason it is difficult to diagnose is that the disease has symptoms that mimic other, less serious health conditions. When symptoms do arise, it is typically not until stage 3 or 4. This means that at stage 2, it will be difficult to even know that something is wrong, let alone be able to diagnose and treat the cancer. 

Usually, stage 2 mesothelioma is found by accident either through surgery or scans meant for something else. 

All of these variables make it difficult to diagnose mesothelioma early. 

Life Expectancy With Stage 2 Mesothelioma

There are a few factors that impact a person’s life expectancy when they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma at any stage. Those factors include the person’s age, gender, and overall health as well as their lifestyle and characteristics. 

Other factors that determine life expectancy are the stage of cancer and where in the body the cancer is located. Finally, the course of treatment also can impact someone’s life expectancy when living with mesothelioma. 

For patients diagnosed as stage 2, there is about a 38% survival rate at two years and 11% surviving for five years or more. All of the factors above combine to increase or decrease the chances of successful treatment. Every patient is different and each patient will have their own life expectancy based on the variety of factors that impact the health and well-being of the patient. 

Is Mesothelioma Curable?

Unfortunately, there is not a cure for any stage of mesothelioma at this time. Medical researchers are constantly working on a cure or more effective treatment for this rare form of cancer so it can be monitored as a chronic condition if not completely cured. 

The good news is, if you have been diagnosed with stage 2 mesothelioma, it was caught early enough for you to have a variety of treatment options. When mesothelioma is caught in stage 3 or 4, that makes it much more difficult for doctors to safely treat the patient without causing further complications or damage. 

As stage 2, you will likely still be eligible for surgery and also for clinical trials that may be available. By combining several treatment methods, you can increase your life expectancy by years beyond the original prognosis. 

Treating Stage 2 Mesothelioma

There are several treatments for stage 2 mesothelioma currently, though no known cures exist at this time. 

Surgical treatment is typically the most effective form of treatment for mesothelioma. Surgical treatment began in the 1940s and involves both pneumonectomy and pleurectomy. Both of these surgeries involve the full or partial removal of the affected lining of the respective organ. 

Another form of treatment for mesothelioma is chemotherapy. There are currently two main chemotherapy drugs that are being used to treat mesothelioma and in 2003 there was a reported 40% success rate. This was double the success rate of other medications used previously in the treatment of the disease. 

Radiation theory is another acceptable treatment method for mesothelioma. Radiation was first used in the 1950s but for many decades it was thought that radiation therapy was much too dangerous to try. Cancer in the lining around many major organs gave rise to the fear that the radiation would do more damage to the nearby organs than to the cancer itself. With stage 2 mesothelioma, you are likely to see it being treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. 

Living with Stage 2 Mesothelioma

If you are living with mesothelioma and unsure of the options you have, seek medical consultation from your doctor so you can determine your best steps moving forward to get the most out of your stage 2 mesothelioma treatment.