What is Stage 4 Mesothelioma?
Stage 4 Mesothelioma is the final stage of mesothelioma. There are four stages of Pleural Mesothelioma. The fourth stage is the most severe because there are not many treatments to help. The treatments that are used can only help decrease some pain and help with a situation like breathing difficulties. The ultimate goal for a patient with stage 4 is to improve their contentment; since the mesothelioma has typically progressed through the body at this stage.
Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma Info
The advancement of cancer is determined by how much it has spread throughout the body. This cancer has spread through many parts of the body in stage four.
Mesothelioma in Stage 4 can spread to many areas, the common ones include:
- The lining of the heart
- Abdominal Organs
- Abdominal organs
- The opposite side of the chest
- Distant lymph nodes
Stage 4 Mesothelioma Symptoms
Symptoms, such as tumors and metastasis, for this cancer are most prominent in stage four. Tumors growing in the chest can cause severe pain and difficulty breathing. New symptoms will develop as this cancer spreads to more parts of the body.
Palliative treatments to help ease the pain of these symptoms are available. Medication for nausea and fatigue is the most common palliative treatment. For severe symptoms regarding the chest, a doctor can reduce chest pain by draining fluid out of the chest area or use radiation to shrink tumors.
The common symptoms of stage 4 include:
- Pain when breathing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Significant weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Overall declining health
- Loss of mobility
Stage 4 Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Out of all the mesothelioma patients, 30% are diagnosed in stage four. The patient can develop tumors that will spread through their blood and into the lymph system.
To help find the areas where cancer has spread too, doctors will use MRI, CT, and PET scans. Radioactive glucose is used in PET scans to find areas that contain high glucose metabolism. On a PET scan, highlighted areas indicate where cancer cells are absorbing the glucose more than the normal cells are.
Stage 4 Mesothelioma Treatment
At this stage of cancer, some individuals are not able to have surgery due to the fact that the cancer is found in places that cannot be operated on. However, one option at this stage if palliative surgery.
Common palliative treatments include:
- Pleurodesis. Doctors will insert a talc substance in between the inner and outer lining of the lung that is affected to help stop the reoccurrence of pleural effusions. The talc that is injected will fill up the spaces where the toxic fluid would gather.
- Medications. The medicine is taken for this cancer typically helps with fatigue, pain, or nausea since there are none specifically for cancer itself.
- Radiation and Chemotherapy. To help reduce the symptoms of this cancer, radiation and chemotherapy are the most common treatments used. They help minimize tumors and prevent them from spreading and causing more damage.
- Draining Chest Fluid. Pleural effusions are when there is a buildup of fluid in the lining of the chest and lungs. Doctors typically inject a needle to draw the fluid out from the chest to help the lungs expand and make breathing easier.
Is Curative Surgery an Option at Stage 4 Mesothelioma?
Comforting treatments are still an option at this stage, but doctors looking for more radical methods. Being a part of clinical trials, doctors have suggested radical surgery for patients at this stage, which resulted in some living months or years longer than expected.
SMART Stands for “Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy”
Attacking and shrinking the tumors using radiation is the goal doctors have before they perform surgery. Doctors have also used higher doses of radiation on tumors in more extreme cases. After radiation, EPP surgery is done to completely remove the infected lung.
Surgeons remove the exposed tumors and lungs before the radiation can jeopardize the patient. Twenty- four patients had this procedure with stage three and four stages of mesothelioma, one in an earlier stage. The treatment was completed on all patients with very minor symptoms. Twenty-one out of the twenty- four lived at least 3 years after the procedure, making the survival rate 84%. Patients were carefully chosen based on overall health and tumors to partake in the SMART study.
Aggressive surgery is not typically an option with patients with stage four mesothelioma. Radiation and chemotherapy are the only treatments that attempt to control the spreading of this disease. The average rate of survival of a patient with stage four is less than a year.
Next Step for Stage 4 Patients
Regardless if the patient is at stage four, or at a lesser stage and is getting worse, they have options to take action.
- Get a Second Opinion. Mesothelioma is misdiagnosed for other diseases quite often, getting a second opinion is very valuable to be certain.
- Treatment. Doctors will insert a talc substance in between the inner and outer lining of the lung that is affected to help stop the reoccurrence of pleural effusions. The talc that is injected will fill up the spaces where the toxic fluid would gather.
- Try Alternative Mesothelioma Treatment. The medicine is taken for this cancer typically helps with fatigue, pain, or nausea since there are none specifically for cancer itself.
- Enroll in a Clinical Trial: Clinical trials for mesothelioma are not as common, most of which will be clinical trials for stage 4 mesothelioma. It does not hurt to search and enroll in any clinical trials that are available.
- File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit. The medicine is taken for this cancer typically helps with fatigue, pain, or nausea since there are none specifically for cancer itself.
Clinical trials have helped many victims that were in stage four, live longer. With a diagnosis, patients will face a choice they have to make, but they may be eligible for a clinical trial. There is also a treatment that is available to help with symptoms. We are here to help regardless of your decision. We can help you understand the mesothelioma claim time limit or how to file a mesothelioma claim. A West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer can help victims of asbestos exposure in West Virginia. Information on Stage 3 mesothelioma can be found here.