Mesothelioma infects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It is very rare compared to many other forms of cancer, but once tumors develop, they can follow a similar pattern. When mesothelioma metastasizes, it spreads to other areas of the body, including the lymph nodes. Mesothelioma tumors in the lymph nodes are usually a sign that the disease is progressing.
The lymphatic system runs through the body and is made up of individual nodes connected by lymph vessels. Most of the nodes are found in clusters in the underarm, neck, chest, abdomen, and groin. The lymphatic fluid acts as a filter as it travels throughout the body, removing foreign or abnormal cells and waste from other tissues. The lymphatic system also produces white blood cells that help protect the body from disease, along with other key functions, such as regulating fluid levels and absorbing fats.
Like the bloodstream, the lymphatic system can be a pathway for cancerous cells to travel to other parts of the body. When mesothelioma metastasizes, it typically infects other local areas first. These can include one or both of the lungs, the chest wall, and the diaphragm. The lymphatic fluid is supposed to clean out cancerous cells from the body, but sometimes they can break through and infect the nodes located in the chest. Patients may see tumors in regional lymph nodes as early as stage 2, but most often in stage 3 or later.
Diagnosing Mesothelioma in the Lymph Nodes
Infected lymph nodes are easy to spot, as the small nodes will often, but not always, become swollen. A swollen lymph node can usually be felt through the skin, especially if it is in a tight area such as the neck. Deeper lymph nodes may not be as obvious when they become infected. A tumor can be detected by a PET scan, but a biopsy is needed to confirm whether it is mesothelioma.
Once mesothelioma has metastasized, it becomes much more difficult to treat. Patients in earlier stages may still be eligible for surgery, as the tumors are located close together and can more easily be removed surgically. When tumors spread locally to the lymph nodes, lymphatic fluid can then carry the disease to more distant parts of the body, making surgery impractical. Patients who have metastasized mesothelioma may also not be considered generally healthy enough to undergo a procedure.
Mesothelioma has a long latency period, and symptoms are generally mild in early stages, making it difficult to diagnose. Mesothelioma is incurable, and most patients do not receive a diagnosis until the disease has already metastasized to the lymph nodes.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Shein Law Advocate for Mesothelioma Patients
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, consult with our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.