Receiving a stage 3 mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating. By this point, the tumor has spread into the lymph nodes, tissues, or organs surrounding the original site of the cancer. People’s prognoses will vary, but generally, it’s not positive; life expectancies are on the short side.
Sadly, because mesothelioma has a long latency period and very few, if any, symptoms in its early stages, it’s not often caught until this point. In fact, stage 3 is when the cancer is most commonly diagnosed. As a result of its long latency period, treatment options are more limited.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
By stage 3, symptoms of mesothelioma are much more noticeable and severe. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, pain, and tightness in the chest, as well as a persistent dry cough. As the tumor continues to grow and spread, these symptoms become more difficult to manage.
A prognosis at stage 3 is worse than in earlier stages. Approximately 26% to 30% of patients at this stage will survive two years. Individual life expectancy is dependent on how each person responds to treatment. However, the average patient with stage 3 mesothelioma will live 18 months, according to data from the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
There are fewer treatment options available in stage 3 than in earlier stages. As the cancer spreads, it becomes more difficult to manage. Patients with pleural mesothelioma — the most common type of mesothelioma, affecting approximately 3 in 4 patients — may be eligible for an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). EPP is an aggressive surgery to remove the diseased lung and its lining. Other patients may be eligible for a pleurectomy and decortication procedure (P/D). In a P/D, rather than remove the entire lung, a surgeon will take out the lining surrounding the lung and all visible tumor masses.