The importance of TNM mesothelioma staging in filing for compensation

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on April 29th, 2019

Once the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is made by your doctor, further tests such as imaging and biopsy will be performed to check the extent to which cancer has spread in your body. This process helps doctors start an appropriate treatment plan and improve your prognosis and can also help with your claim.

Mesothelioma staging is an essential part of the diagnostic procedure and a vital element in creating an individualized treatment plan. It also plays a major role in deciding the patient's eligibility for undergoing tumor removal surgery.

Mesothelioma has four stages: stage 1 mesothelioma is localized, the malignancy has not spread beyond the point of origin, whereas stages 2 through 4 are considered to be advanced stages.

Understanding the TNM system

When mesothelioma is diagnosed at a less advanced stage, people tend to have a better chance of getting successful treatment. But, as mesothelioma has a latency period of almost 2-3 decades and symptoms similar to that of other common diseases, many patients remain undiagnosed until they reach the advanced stage 3 or 4. At these stages, patients may have a worse prognosis due to the lack of curative treatment options.

The staging systems were developed specifically to stage malignant pleural mesothelioma. Researchers are working on adapting the TNM system for peritoneal mesothelioma. Because pericardial mesothelioma or testicular mesothelioma are rarer cancers, no formal systems have been created to stage them. The Tumor, Nodes, and Metastasis (TNM) Staging System was first developed in the 1940s by a French physician, Pierre Denoix. In the early 1980s A.P. Chahinian developed the first TNM staging system specific to mesothelioma.

The TNM staging system describes the important aspects of cancer in detail. The letter T stands for the tumor and explains the size and extent of the primary tumor, the letter N describes if the lymph nodes are affected, and the letter M refers to the metastasis or the spread of the tumor from the point of development to other parts of the body.

The tools used in clinical staging and prognostication include:

  • physical exams
  • imaging tests
  • pathology
  • surgical reports
  • biopsy results from thoracoscopy
  • MRI imaging-acquisition protocols
  • CT scan volumetric tumor measurement.

Currently, the TNM staging system is approved by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and is the most commonly used and often updated by new mesothelioma research. It is also referred to as the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (IMIG) staging system. In this system, the factors such as the size of the tumor, its extent, lymph node involvement, and metastasis are taken into account to classify the pleural mesothelioma stage.

Importance of the TNM staging in the legal process

Due to the nature of the disease, the claims for compensation in the case of mesothelioma patients tend to be expedited, especially considering the fact that the majority of people discover it only when the disease is already quite advanced. With a mesothelioma diagnosis, you have immediate eligibility and our staff and attorneys will prioritize your cases for expedited processing. You will not be required to travel and a family member will be able to handle the paperwork on your behalf.

It is estimated that around 75% of all mesothelioma cases are related to asbestos exposure which occurred while working in industrial or military jobs. Patients suffering from mesothelioma can choose to file a claim against the companies responsible for their exposure to this carcinogen. Additionally, it is important to know that relatives of patients who have passed away from mesothelioma can also file a claim for compensation.

At Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., we collaborate with a medical research team that follows the TNM staging of cancer to ensure you get the most accurate diagnosis. Also, it's important to keep in mind that regardless of the stage of mesothelioma you have been diagnosed with, you are entitled to receive financial compensation and you can file compensation claims with bankruptcy trusts or with the VA if the asbestos exposure occurred in the military.