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The stages of mesothelioma

Men and women discussing mesothelioma

This page is about mesothelioma staging. It is important to remember that the staging for mesothelioma in the chest (pleural mesothelioma) is different to the staging for mesothelioma in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

The stages of mesothelioma

The staging of pleural mesothelioma is different to the staging of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma stages

In the UK, the system that is most commonly used to stage pleural mesothelioma is the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG) system.

The IMIG system is based on the TNM staging system. The TNM system describes the extent of the primary tumour (T), whether or not there is cancer in nearby lymph nodes (N), and whether or not the cancer has spread elsewhere - metastases (M).

Once the TNM categories have been decided, this information is grouped together to give the stage. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 is the most advanced stage. Further down in this page there is more information about the different stages.

Peritoneal mesothelioma stages

There is no established staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma. If your cancer is staged, it may be done according to the TNM system. The TNM system is the staging system most commonly used in cancer.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating mesothelioma section.

 

 

What staging is

The stage of a cancer tells the doctor how far it has spread. The tests and scans you have when diagnosing your cancer give some information about the stage. Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide about the treatment you need. Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have an advanced stage of cancer.

 

Pleural mesothelioma stages

The staging system most commonly used in the UK for pleural mesothelioma is called the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG) system.

 

The IMIG system

This is based on the TNM staging system.

The TNM system is the staging system most commonly used in cancer staging generally. The TNM system describes

  • The size and position of the mesothelioma primary tumour (T)
  • Whether the mesothelioma cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes (N)
  • Whether the mesothelioma cells have spread to other parts of the body - metastases (M)

Once the TNM categories have been decided, this information is grouped together to give the stage. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 is the most advanced stage.

  • Stage 1 - mesothelioma cells found in the pleura around the lung on one side of the chest
  • Stage 1a - mesothelioma cells found in the outer layer of the pleura (parietal pleura) on one side
  • Stage 1b - mesothelioma cells found in the inner layer of the pleura (visceral pleura), but is only on one side of the chest. It has not spread to lung tissue or diaphragm
  • Stage 2 - mesothelioma has spread to both layers of the pleura on one side of the body, and has enlarged to form a tumour mass on the pleural tissue around the lungs, or has started to spread into the diaphragm muscle or the lung tissue
  • Stage 3 - mesothelioma has spread to the chest wall or the covering of the heart (pericardium), but is still potentially removable by surgery. Or it has spread to the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest
  • Stage 4 - mesothelioma cannot be removed by surgery because it has spread to different parts of the chest wall, or has grown through the diaphragm into the peritoneum, or to the pleura on the other side of the body, or to the chest organs, or through to the inner layer of the pericardium. Or it has spread to the lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, or above the collarbone. Or has spread to other parts of the body
 

Peritoneal mesothelioma stages

There is no established staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma. Sometimes the doctors may use the TNM system used for pleural mesothelioma. 

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Updated: 17 November 2015