For nearly 40 years, there was no generally accepted staging system for malignant pleural mesothelioma. In 1994, members of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group, in collaboration with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, proposed a TNM staging system based on analyses of outcomes in retrospective surgical series and small clinical trials. Subsequently accepted by the American Joint Commission on Cancer and the Union for International Cancer Control for the sixth editions of their staging manuals, this system has since been the international staging standard. However, it has significant limitations, particularly with respect to clinical staging and to the categories for lymph node staging. Here we provide an overview of the development of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer malignant pleural mesothelioma staging database, which was designed to address these limitations through the development of a large international data set. Analyses of this database, described in papers linked to this overview, are being used to inform revisions in the eighth editions of the American Joint Commission on Cancer and Union for International Cancer Control staging systems.
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