A comprehensive overview of mesothelioma covering information on the disease, such as: treatment, types, causes, diagnosis, and symptoms.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What is Mesothelioma and How to Treat It?

What is Malignant Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma or also known as malignant mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer suffered by people who are often exposed to airborne asbestos dust. Even those who wash clothes of family members affected by asbestos are also faced a risk of developing mesothelioma. Smoking also exacerbate this disease.

The cancer starts in cells in the linings of certain parts of the body, especially abdominal cavity and chest cavity. A layer of specialized cells called mesothelial cells cover the outer surface of most of internal organs and lines the inside of the abdomen, chest and the space around your heart. The lining formed by these cells is called the mesothelium. The mesothelium helps your internal organs to move freely by making a special lubricating fluid. For example, this lubricating fluid make your lungs to contract and expand easily when you breathe. So, malignant mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor of the mesothelium and often shortened to mesothelioma.

There are three types of mesothelioma, including:

  1. Pericardial mesothelioma (the rarest form) - it attacks the protective layer covering the heart
  2. Peritoneal mesothelioma (second most common form) - it attacks the peritoneum.
  3. Pleural mesothelioma (most common form) – it attacks the lining surrounding the lungs.
 These three forms are nearly always caused by asbestos exposure.

The cancer is known for its aggressiveness. Where in the United State, mesothelioma kills more than 2,700 every year and in the United Kingdom, more than 2,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually. Almost no cure for most the patients, so the most general steps performed by the doctor is helping the patients to feel as comfortable as they can, plus improving their quality of life as the disease progresses.

What Causes Mesothelioma

The main cause of mesothelioma is working with asbestos. Asbestos is a minerals with microscopic fibers. These fibers are resistant to chemicals, fire, heat and do not conduct electricity. So, they have been mined and used in the automotive, construction and other industries. 

If asbestos fiber are released into the air, they can be inhaled or swallowed by the workers, leading to serious health problems. Most mesothelioma cases can be linked to exposure to asbestos at work. Asbestos dust brought home on the hair or clothing of the asbestos worker can also risk the health of family member and others living around asbestos workers. Especially, those who living close to asbestos mines. 

However, in several mesothelioma cases reported that there are several possible causes that can lead to the cancer include:

There are several reports of mesothelioma after injections of thorium dioxide and high doses of radiation to the abdomen and chest.

One of the related minerals to asbestos is erionite. It common found in some areas of Turkey. Exposure to erionite is believed as the cause of high rates of mesothelioma rates in those areas.

Some experts believe certain people may be genetically predisposed to mesothelioma. However, the rates vary among populations.

SV40 virus.
Some studies reported that infection with the SV40 virus increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. 

What are The Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Exposure to asbestos dust takes a long time up to thirty years to show the symptoms. So that the patients who come to the doctor mostly already in a bad state. There are several sign and symptoms of mesothelioma that can be found based on where the cancer is in the body, such as:

Pleural mesothelioma (in the lungs)
  • Exhaustion
  • Discomfort in the side of the chest
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain under the rib cage
  • Weight loss
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
Peritoneal mesothelioma (in the abdomen)
  • Nausea, and vomiting
  • Lumps in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
Pericardial mesothelioma (in the heart area)
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fluid retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure

How to Treat Mesothelioma?

The treatment of mesothelioma is depend on your overall health and the type and stage of mesothelioma. If the cancer has not yet spread, a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation likely will be offered to you.

How Long Can You Live With Mesothelioma?

The average life expectancy for a patient ranges from nine months to 2 years, depending on several factors. However, in several mesothelioma cases, some people able to survive 10 years beyond their original prognosis, providing inspirational stories for other potential survivors.