MESO Series: Part II

Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment Options

The typical mesothelioma patient is a man around retirement age with a blue-collar or military background. The relatively advanced age of patients is due to the long latency period of this disease, which typically manifests between 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos. Cruelly, it is just as workers are set to enjoy their retirement years, that they are diagnosed with mesothelioma. While workers who have been in close contact with asbestos are at the highest risk, family members can also be at risk via exposure to fibers brought home on the clothing of the primary individual.

If you or someone you know has experienced any of the symptoms outlined in our previous post, we encourage you to seek medical attention right away. It is critical to let your doctor know as early as possible if there’s even a small chance you may have been exposed to asbestos during your working years. If you aren’t currently experiencing any symptoms, but are concerned about possible past exposure, ask your doctor to set up regular monitoring. However, keep in mind that not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will get mesothelioma or other cancers.

How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because it often looks like other types of cancer, or even benign illnesses such as pneumonia, flu, or intestinal issues. Your doctor will likely use a variety of diagnostic tools, including a physical exam, blood and tissue tests, x-rays and other imaging scans, and biopsies to determine whether or not mesothelioma is present. If mesothelioma is diagnosed, these tests also help determine how far it has progressed and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. The cancer can spread via tissue, the lymph system, or the blood.

The process used to find out if cancer has spread outside the pleura (lungs) or peritoneum (abdomen) is called staging. As with other cancers, there are four stages of the disease. Doctors will ask questions such as: How far has cancer spread in the pleura? Has it spread into other nearby pleura or structures? Can it be removed with surgery? Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes? Has the cancer spread to distant organs, like the bones, liver, lungs, or pleura (lining of the lung) on the other side of the body, or the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen)?

Depending on the answers, pleural mesothelioma, for example, can be divided into four stages: 

  • Stage 1: Cancer is only in the pleura. At this stage, you may be a candidate for treatments like surgery to remove the cancer.
  • Stage 2: Cancer may have spread beyond your pleura, but it’s still near the original site. At this stage, surgery plus chemotherapy or radiation may be indicated.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes. A cancer at this stage likely requires aggressive treatment and includes a combination of treatment approaches.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other organs, or metastasized. Aggressive treatment and possibly palliative care is recommended at this stage of the disease.

It is important to know what stage the cancer is in order to plan the correct treatment. For a more detailed breakdown of each stage of pleural mesothelioma, please view the outline on If you are facing a positive mesothelioma diagnosis, we encourage you to get a second opinion to be certain that your symptoms are indeed associated with mesothelioma. 

What Is The Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

According to the National Cancer Institute, the prognosis and treatment options for mesothelioma depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, the patient’s age and activity level, as well as his or her general health, including lung and heart health. 

Mesothelioma has historically had a poor prognosis, and the current life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with the disease, with treatment, is around 18-36 months. Treatment for early-stage disease with surgery and radiation can extend a patient’s life expectancy, but many patients either are too ill to undergo aggressive surgery or present with advanced disease. Palliative care remains an important component of the management of this devastating illness.

However, there is some good news. Early detection, advancements in treatment options, as well as new, targeted treatments are cause for optimism, with many patients outliving their prognosis by years.

What Are The Treatment Options for Mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will work closely with a specialist to develop a treatment plan specific to your situation. It is very important to establish strong relationships with a team of experts able to provide support and guidance in all aspects of the management of mesothelioma.

As mentioned, there are four stages of meso with progressively aggressive treatment options, including: 

  • Surgery 
  • Radiation 
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment. Detailed information on each of these treatment options is available at It is important to discuss all available options with your doctor to be sure you’re getting the right treatment for your particular disease. 

We are not medical experts and urge you to speak with your doctor or specialist regarding your diagnosis and potential treatment options. Over decades of successfully fighting for financial compensation for mesothelioma victims, we have worked with many excellent specialists in this field and are happy to provide you with a list of local mesothelioma medical experts. 

Contact Us For Help

You and your family are undoubtedly experiencing emotional stress and trauma as you deal with this painful time in your lives. Make sure you find an attorney for whom you are not just a number on a spreadsheet or a docket. We are responsive, compassionate, and sincere. 

If you think you might have a mesothelioma legal case in Massachusetts, we encourage you to reach out to us. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families get justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation. If you like, we will come to your house to listen to your story and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim. 



For more information on mesothelioma and its various treatment options, including some new targeted therapies, please read Mesothelioma: a Review by Frank E. Mott, MD, FACP on the National Library of Medicine website. 

Detailed stages:


For more on the stages: ​​