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The Stages of Mesothelioma: What Can I Expect After My Diagnosis?

doctor with patient in hospital roomIt’s numbing, in a way, to discover that you have malignant pleural mesothelioma, but this feeling doesn’t last. What comes next? With a little help from friends, family, doctors and legal counsel, your shock can quickly turn to concern, hope and even optimism.

At Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we’ve spent decades helping the victims of asbestos exposure come to terms with mesothelioma while navigating their legal and medical options. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be wondering how to begin grappling with the illness.

While it is tempting to maintain some ignorance about mesothelioma, the knowledge of what’s to come can be genuinely helpful. It can help you work through your feelings. It can give you time to learn about your palliative care options. It might also calm you down to know more about the road ahead.

For these reasons, most physicians will begin by telling you what to expect from the disease itself. Here, then, is a brief summary of the stages of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Stage I

At this point, the disease is located on one side of the chest only. Though there are four stages of mesothelioma, only Stage I is considered “local.” Because the disease is very aggressive, all the rest are “advanced” by definition. For this reason – and because it can take years or even decades for mesothelioma to show symptoms – few cases of the illness are diagnosed at Stage I.

Mesothelioma Stage II

In Stage II, tumor has spread around the lung lining, into the diaphragm or has invaded the lung itself.

Mesothelioma Stage III

At this stage, mesothelioma may also be found in the tissue surrounding the heart, in the ribs and in the soft tissue and lymph nodes of the chest.

Mesothelioma Stage IV

In this stage of mesothelioma, it may spread nearly anywhere. Typically, it is found in both halves of the chest and in the lower abdomen. It may also involve the spine, the brain or more distant places.


  • You have plenty of palliative care options to choose from, some of which can greatly extend life expectancy and most of which will make you much more comfortable.
  • Ask your doctor all the questions you like. The more information you know, the better.
  • Know your legal and clinical options.

Related articles:

Mesothelioma and Pain: What to Expect and How to Manage It

Strategies for Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma Treatment Options and Clinical Trials

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