Staging is the process used to determine whether cancer has spread, and if so, how far it has spread. There are five mesothelioma stages (stages I-IV and recurrent cancer). The stages of mesothelioma can be classified as localized, advanced, or recurrent. Stage I refers to localized mesothelioma (meaning the cancer has not yet spread to areas such as the lymph nodes). Advanced mesothelioma stages describe cancer that has spread, and include stages II, III, and IV. Recurrent mesothelioma is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated.
After a mesothelioma diagnosis has been made, tests are conducted to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread outside the pleura or peritoneum is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the spread of the cancer in order to plan the mesothelioma treatment.
The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan
A chest x-ray is an x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
CT Scan (CAT Scan)
A CT scan is a procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of the chest and abdomen, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.