There is a long latency period associated with mesothelioma, meaning it can take 10-50 years for symptoms to appear. Latency periods vary between cases of mesothelioma and depend on a number of factors, including the age and length of time a person was exposed to asbestos. Distant metastases occur in 10% to 50% of cases of stage 4 mesothelioma. Cancer cells can spread locally, regionally, and distantly.
Mesothelioma progresses rapidly once symptoms begin. Metastasis can occur as early as several weeks. Compared to other types of cancer, it is usually aggressive and fast. Once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, doctors use mesothelioma staging to see how far the cancer has spread through the body.
Although doctors use certain determinations to determine the severity of all types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma is the only type with a formal staging system. Knowing the stage of mesothelioma helps doctors develop the most effective treatment plan to improve prognosis and life expectancy. Mesothelioma tends to spread (metastasize) quite quickly. Because of this, many experts consider mesothelioma to be an aggressive form of cancer.
Numerous factors can affect how quickly mesothelioma progresses and the areas of the body to which it spreads. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the only type of mesothelioma with an officially adopted staging system. Epithelial mesothelioma is the most common and these cancer cells adhere more strongly to each other, so metastasis is slower with this type of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma metastasis occurs when cancer has spread beyond where tumors originated.
It is usually related to stage 3 and stage 4 mesothelioma. The life expectancy of stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is 22.2 months with treatment, which is about 10 months longer than the overall average life expectancy of mesothelioma. Patients with stage 1 mesothelioma usually survive longer than patients with stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma. Patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma account for approximately 80% of all mesothelioma cases, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma is usually easier to treat than late-stage mesothelioma, but it is usually more invasive. While these are less common areas of the body affected by mesothelioma progression, it is important that patients are aware of the possibility and be aware of any correlated symptoms of mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), the most common type, is the only mesothelioma that has a formal staging system. The most widely used staging system in the United Kingdom for pleural mesothelioma is called the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG) system.
Calling this number connects you to a patient advocate at The Mesothelioma Center, the nation's most trusted mesothelioma resource. Researchers have also found cases of peritoneal mesothelioma with metastases to the bones and brain, although this is even rarer than with pleural mesothelioma. However, some symptoms of mesothelioma metastasis are no different from the common symptoms of mesothelioma and other types of cancer. Patients with early-stage mesothelioma often show better survival rates than those with advanced mesothelioma.