Mesothelioma

An Overview of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma causes the protective lining or mesothelium that covers all the major body organs, to function abnormally and invade into the nearby main body organs like the heart, lungs or abdomen and damage them. There are mainly three types of mesothelioma – pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Of the three types, pleural mesothelioma is the most common type that affects the lining of the lungs and is found to occur in human beings. The rarest malignant cancer is the pericardial mesothelioma which affects the lining around the heart. The peritoneal mesothelioma is found to affect the lining of the abdominal cavity.


Symptoms

Mesothelioma would have taken most of its toll on the human body before the symptoms occur. The average survival period of the people diagnosed to suffer from malignant mesothelioma would be about one year. The symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to other common diseases like fever, nausea, sudden weight loss, chest pain, breathlessness and hence it is difficult to diagnose the cause of the above diseases.

More information on the symptoms Mesothelioma.
Causes

The main cause for mesothelioma is the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers or dusts. These asbestos fibers enter our body while we breathe and reach the lining of the lung and may sometimes cause scarring of the lungs. This is called asbestosis, but is benign or non cancerous. The tumor growth in case of people inhaling these asbestos fibers will only show symptoms after about 30 years. The longer or more intense the exposure of the asbestos is felt on a person, the greater are the chances of him suffering from mesothelioma. Even people who have worked in asbestos factories for just a few months have been affected by mesothelioma after many years. The families of the people working in asbestos factories are also at high risk of getting mesothelioma as they are exposed to the workers’ clothing, skin or hair follicles.

More information on the causes of Mesothelioma
Diagnosis

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is a bit difficult process. The symptoms of mesothelioma are common to some other diseases as well; so there are good chances of misdiagnosis. Pathology tests are the most accurate way of diagnosing mesothelioma. When a person suspecting mesothelioma approaches a doctor, he will recommend taking imaging tests like X-ray, CAT/CT scan of the chest or abdomen. If needed, the doctor will ask for further tests like biopsy. Biopsy is checking the parts of the organs or body which are susceptible to mesothelioma under a powerful microscope to identify the presence of cancer cells. Thoracoscopy is a procedure to check lungs, thoracic cavity and peritoneoscopy for checking inside the abdominal cavity. Final diagnosis is based on the report of the pathologist.

More information on diagnosing Mesothelioma.
Treatments

Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer which can be treated by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery and in severe cases a combination of all the three. In case of people affected with pleural mesothelioma, the entire lung or a portion of the sac or the whole sac surrounding the organ is removed, depending upon the severity.

Radiation therapy uses high energy X- rays to kill all the cancer affected cells. There are two types of radiation therapy performed depending on the amount of cancerous cells present in the affected area, be it the lungs or the abdominal cavity or the heart. A machine emits radiation light at a certain target area of the body when it comes to the case of external radiation therapy. Internal radiation therapy uses needles or catheters to assist in placing the radioactive substance on or near the cancer. Chemotherapy is another medical treatment given to people suffering from mesothelioma. Chemotherapy is a medical procedure in which drugs that prevent cancer in humans are used to prevent the cells from dividing and hence chemotherapy prevents it from growing further.

These are the normal treatments that are administered to patients suffering from mesothelioma.