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Stage III Mesothelioma

Once asbestos cancer is at stage III, it is considered locally advanced malignant mesothelioma. This makes the disease more difficult to treat and gives patients fewer options.

By stage III, most patients know they are sick and seek medical attention. They often have severe chest pains or stomach pains, depending on the primary location of the disease. Other symptoms include a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath. This is caused by the tumors infiltrating the chest wall.

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In stage III, the disease is not confined to one location but it is local to the point of origin. The cancer has not yet spread.

Stage III Asbestos Cancer

By the time the disease has reached the stage III level, it may have spread to the lymph nodes, muscles, heart, ribs, chest wall and esophagus on one side of the body. Pleural mesothelioma patients may have intense chest pains and difficulty breathing. Peritoneal patients may have bowel obstructions. Because the disease has spread, there may be pain in other places as well.

At this point, the tumors will not respond to curative treatments. Patients who are in good health may be eligible for surgical treatments that could extend life. Other patients receive treatments that are focused on palliative care.

Stage III Staging Systems

In creating staging systems for cancer, physicians attempted to describe the severity of the disease. For mesothelioma, each of the distinctive staging systems offers different treatment options:


This is the most commonly used staging system, using tumor (T), lymph node involvement (N) and metastasis (M) or disease spread. In stage III, the disease is spread to organs close to the site of origin. Palliative surgery is the most common goal.


As the oldest staging system, this uses broader definitions when staging cancer. In stage III asbestos cancer, the cancer has spread into the diaphragm, abdominal area and some lymph nodes.


Created by Dr. David Sugarbaker, who has dedicated his life to asbestos-cancer treatment, the Brigham system stages the disease based on the availability of surgical treatment. In stage III, the cancer is inoperable. Surgery is strictly palliative. Common treatments for Stage III Unlike stages I and II, the treatment for stage III asbestos cancer is not likely to be curative. Doctors will still utilize the three main types of treatment -- surgery, chemotherapy and radiation -- but for palliative care.

  • Surgery - Patients who are in good general health can undergo surgery to help ease pain. These surgeries include procedures to drain excess chest fluids (thoracentesis), excess abdominal fluids (paracentesis) or fluids around the heart (pericardiocentesis). In addition, patients may opt for a surgical decortication, which pares down painful tumors.
  • Chemotherapy - In some cases, chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells and lessen pain.
  • Radiation - Some patients can benefit from targeted radiation to kill tumors and lessen pain.
  • Palliative Care - The more important part of any late-stage cancer care is pain management. Medical professionals often prescribe pain medications, nutritional supplements and vitamins to ensure the patient is living as comfortably as possible. Other treatments may include massage and acupuncture.

Stage III prognosis

On average, stage III patients live six months to a year following a diagnosis. But, as with all other stages of asbestos cancer, this is highly variable. Studies show that stage III patients who opt for curative surgeries such as an extrapleural pneumonectomy and respond well to the treatment have longer lifespans. It.s important to remember that each patient responds differently to treatment.


Cancer Research UK. The Stages of Mesothelioma. Retrieved from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/mesothelioma/treatment/the-stages-of-mesothelioma

National Cancer Institute. Cancer Staging. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/staging/