Once doctors have diagnosed a patient with the malignant cancer mesothelioma, they perform a battery of tests known as mesothelioma staging. A staging system allows the physician to pinpoint the extent of the cancer in the patient, as well as create the best treatment plan for the specific level of development.
Mesothelioma staging is based on imaging studies such as x-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. In the four stage system, mesothelioma is given a Roman numerical value based on the extent of the cancer’s spread, with Stage I having the least amount of cancerous development, and Stage IV having the most.
Currently, physicians employ one of two staging systems to diagnose and treat mesothelioma. The most recently developed system is called the TNM Staging System. In this system, information about the amount of cancerous cells in tumors, lymph nodes and metastasis (the spread of cancerous cells to distant organs) is combined in a process called stage grouping. More specifically, the T stands for tumor, its size as well as how it has spread to nearby organs, the N stands for the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes, and the M is for metastasis. These stages are then categorized by Roman numerals from I to IV:
The second primary system used to identify mesothelioma is known as the Butchart system. This system is based primarily on the size of the cancerous tumor, but, like the TNM system, it bases its severity on a Roman numerical system from I to IV:
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