Stage 2 mesothelioma infographic which shows the difference and spread of mesothelimoa from stage 1 to stage 2.

What Is Stage 2 Mesothelioma?

Stage 2 mesothelioma is the second of four mesothelioma stages doctors use to determine how much and how far cancer has spread. A patient with stage 2 mesothelioma may experience cancer growth from the original site to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant areas of the body.

Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma face a difficult journey. Treatment options can be costly & intimidating. However, if you’re a patient with stage 2 mesothelioma, you may experience fewer symptoms and live longer than someone with late-stage cancer.

Doctors determine the stage of mesothelioma cancer by measuring the size and location of tumors. A physician can measure the size and location of tumors by using ultrasound images to accurately assess where and how far the cancer has grown. Then, they can use that information to determine the stage. Once your doctor establishes the stage, they can use it as a guide for potential treatment methods.

What’s the Difference Between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Lung Cancer?

The main difference between stage 1 and stage 2 lung cancer is how far the disease has spread. For example, pleural mesothelioma occurs after someone inhales asbestos particles that become stuck in the lining of the lungs. Over time, irritation from asbestos can cause a change in DNA, signaling the production of tumors. Stage 1 tumors in the pleural lining have not spread, while stage 2 cancer has grown and spread near the original tumor.

Both stage 1 and stage 2 cancer are relatively treatable. The chances of a stage 2 mesothelioma patient successfully undergoing surgery to remove cancer are slightly less than those of stage 1 cancer. Stage 2 patients may require additional rounds of radiation or chemotherapy.

Stage 4 mesothelioma, however, is the most advanced form of mesothelioma and can be distinguished by more severe symptoms across distant areas of the body. Treatment options become limited in the later stages of cancer.

Common Stage 2 Mesothelioma Symptoms

Stage 2 mesothelioma symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, trouble breathing, and chronic cough. Patients with rarer forms of mesothelioma may experience fever, abdominal pain, or weight loss. Symptoms may appear mild and worsen as the disease progresses. The timeframe for how long these symptoms occur for vary and depends on several risk factors, including the location of mesothelioma, age, genetics, and lifestyle.

Symptoms can occur anywhere but generally stay close to the affected areas. Mesothelioma most often develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and thoracic cavities. The most common symptoms of stage 2 mesothelioma include:

A patient with a known history of asbestos exposure should pay extra attention to any possible symptoms and undergo regular testing with their doctor. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until the disease spreads into advanced stages when treatment options are limited.

Conditions Misdiagnosed for Mesothelioma

The use of asbestos is not completely banned in the U.S., though exposure to it can cause cancer. Asbestos, for those unfamiliar, is a mineral that was commonly mined in North America during the 1900s and manufactured into building products and personal protective gear. It is uncommon for severe mesothelioma symptoms to appear in earlier stages. If they do occur, early symptoms of mesothelioma are often mistaken for a less severe condition such as:

  • Influenza (flu)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Pneumonia
  • Hernia
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Emphysema
  • Gallstones
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Metastatic lung cancer
  • Cancer of the Lung

Improving Stage 2 Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma can improve with a few complementary approaches to physical and mental health management. Some patients have experienced an improvement in symptoms through light exercises like yoga and meditation. Other alternatives, such as acupuncture, have been found in small studies to reduce treatment-related symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Patients can use other remedies to improve lung cancer symptoms. Simple diet improvements like reducing sugar intake have been known to improve symptoms. Light physical exercise can help the body prepare and recover from cancer treatment. Often, patients benefit from mental health therapy by learning to cope with physical and physiological symptoms.

How Do They Diagnose Stage 2 Mesothelioma?

A biopsy tissue sample collected and tested in the lab ultimately confirms a mesothelioma diagnosis. Then, doctors determine the stage by observing the disease’s location, size, and possible spread.

Additional tests, such as CT, ultrasound, or X-ray imaging scans, may be performed to track its spread. Results from the scans show where the cancer is in the body, including the original tumor site and other affected areas. Interpreting the results from scans accurately depicts the extent of the spread.

Mesothelioma is an incredibly rare disease, but doctors and researchers have studied it enough to develop guidance for staging using the TNM classification system. The TNM cancer staging system is the most widely accepted among doctors, but other rarely-used systems include the Brigham method and the Butchart system.

How Do They Diagnose Other Mesothelioma Stages?

All forms of mesothelioma are diagnosed the same way – by confirmation of cancer cells collected from a tissue sample. Then, the stage classification for mesothelioma can be determined.

The TNM classifications to determine the mesothelioma stage are broken down as such:

  • T-Tumor. The size and location of the tumor and its ability to be removed via surgery.
  • N-Nodes. If cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • M-Metastasis. If cancer spread to distant sites, other organs, or the bones.

Treatment Options for Stage 2 Cancer

Stage 2 mesothelioma is more severe than stage 1 but less severe than stage 3 or 4. Treatment for mesothelioma with limited growth may often include more invasive methods than cancer metastasizing to other areas.

Patients with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma may undergo surgery to remove the visible tumors, followed by radiation to eliminate the remaining cancer cells. Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a treatment used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma.

Treatment options for stage 2 mesothelioma include:

Outcomes and survival times vary by patient. Factors that can affect treatment eligibility and survival outcomes include age, sex, cancer grade, cancer site, and overall health. Generally, younger patients tend to have healthier physical conditions and can handle invasive treatments such as surgery. Certain locations of cancer are also associated with better outcomes. Peritoneal mesothelioma is typically more treatable than pleural or pericardial mesothelioma.

Is Stage 2 Mesothelioma Curable?

Like other stages, stage 2 mesothelioma is not curable. Advanced forms like stage 4 lung cancer are also not curable. Researchers have not yet discovered the cure for mesothelioma but are constantly working to improve treatments. Patients can live months or years longer and experience reduced symptoms when they choose to undergo treatment.

Clinical trials are an option for patients not responding well to traditional treatments. Studies involving potential treatments give patients an extra chance at extending their lives. Researchers use clinical studies to establish safe and effective treatment options. Patients who participate in clinical trials undergo treatments that aren’t yet approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

What is the Life Expectancy for this Stage?

The life expectancy for stage 2 mesothelioma ranges between 6 to 18 months. Life expectancy can vary by mesothelioma site. For example, peritoneal and testicular mesothelioma survival rates surpass pleural and pericardial rates.  On average, the 5-year survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is 65% compared to 12% for pleural mesothelioma.

The life expectancy for advanced forms of cancer affecting the lungs is shorter. For example, the life expectancy for stage 4 lung cancer is relatively poor, with only about 5 percent of patients surviving five years.

How Long Can You Live With Stage 2 Mesothelioma?

Most patients live at least one year following a mesothelioma diagnosis. As treatments improve with time, more patients are surviving longer than expected. The five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is about 15 percent in earlier stages.

Survival rates do not predict the outcome for every patient. A poor prognosis does not have to be an automatic death sentence, as clinical research has created several life-extending treatments.

Treatment doesn’t have to be overwhelming, complicated, or expensive. Lung Cancer Center is here to help you or your loved one during the stage 2 mesothelioma cancer journey. Connect with a patient advocate today to learn if you or a loved one are eligible for a mesothelioma settlement.