Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most devastating things you will ever go through. If you just learned that you have mesothelioma, you may wonder what this type of diagnosis could mean for the rest of your life. You will require treatment and support along the way, and it can be helpful to learn more about what to expect and how you can prepare for what is ahead. Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of lung cancer, but that does not mean you cannot live with hope.
This type of cancer can progress quickly, and getting immediate treatment is imperative. One of the first steps is to determine the specific stage of the cancer as this will determine treatment options. There are four stages of malignant mesothelioma, with stage one indicating that the disease is still in its early stages, and four indicating that it has spread. Doctors often speak about the stage of the cancer when speaking with a patient regarding his or her overall prognosis.
After the diagnosis
The staging of your cancer will determine how to move forward with treatment options. There are different ways that North Carolina doctors seek to determine the progression of the disease. They will use different types of tests to gather the following information:
- The size of the main tumor — The doctors will look at how far the malignancy has spread into the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs. They will test to determine how the spread has affected other areas and whether the tumor is removable by surgery.
- The spread to lymph nodes – Doctors will evaluate test results to determine whether the cancer has affected the lymph nodes yet, as this could impact choices for treatment and their efficacy.
- The spread to distant places in the body — Testing will reveal if the cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body, such as the bones, liver, other organs or the lung on the other side of the body.
The specific stage of your cancer can help you understand what options you have available to you. With the right treatment plan, it is possible to reduce discomfort, improve quality of life and allow you to look to the future with hope. In many cases, mesothelioma is the consequence of exposure to asbestos, something that occurs in different types of jobs. In addition to seeking immediate medical treatment, you may also benefit in learning more about the legal options that may be available to you.