Mesothelioma is a type of unusual cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of person's internal organs (mesothelium). According to doctors, mesothelioma can be divided into different categories based on what part of the mesothelium is affected by cancer. Mesothelioma occurs in the tissue that surrounds the lung. Mesothelioma that occurs in the tissue in abdomen (peritoneum) is termed as peritoneal mesothelioma and accounts for 10 percent to 20 percent of all mesotheliomas. In exceptional cases, mesothelioma can also arise in the lining around the heart (pericardium) and in the lining around the testicles (tunica vaginalis). It is more common in men than women. It is more common in older adults. It is seen that most patients of mesothelioma are 65 and older. But mesothelioma can be diagnosed at any age.
Symptoms of mesothelioma differ. It depends on where the cancer occurs. Symptoms of Pleural mesothelioma may include shortness of breath, painful breathing, and chest pain under the rib cage, unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on chest, unexplained weight loss and dry (nonproductive) cough. Patient ofPeritoneal mesothelioma exhibit symptoms such as abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, a change in your bowel habits, such as more frequent diarrhea or constipation, lumps of tissue in the abdomen, unnexplained weight loss. Signs and symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis are vague. These forms are so uncommon that sufficient information is available. Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis may be first identified as a mass on a testicle. mesothelioma that has spread to other parts of the body include symptoms of Pain in the area where cancer has spread, difficulty swallowing, swelling in the neck and face
Generally, patients have cancer disease with a genetic mutation that turns normal, healthy cells into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. Cells grow abnormally and multiply out of control, and they don't die. Cancer cells attack nearby tissues and can break off from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).It is not yet established the causes of the initial genetic mutation that leads to mesothelioma. Many researchers have recognized factors that may increase the risk. Experts state that cancers form because of an interaction between many factors, such as inherited conditions, environment, health conditions and lifestyle choices.
Asbestos exposure is major factor in having cancer in most of the cases (approximately 70-80%). though the actual percentage could be higher. Asbestos is a mineral that is found naturally in the environment. Asbestos fibers are strong and resistant to heat, and have wide variety of applications. People who work around asbestos fibers are at the greatest risk of mesothelioma. When asbestos is broken up for instance, in the mining process or in removing asbestos insulation from a building, dust may be created. Such dust particles are inhaled or swallowed by workers and the asbestos fibers may settle in the lungs or in the stomach, where they can cause irritation that may lead to mesothelioma. Researchers have recognized other factors that may amplify the risk of mesothelioma, including:SV40, a virus originally found in monkeys. Family history also leads to mesothelioma. It is better to visit doctor if there are signs and symptoms that may indicate mesothelioma.
For patients of mesothelioma, doctor conduct a physical exam,and check up those areas where pateint experiences pain. Doctor thoroughly examine for any lumps or other unusual signs. Doctor recommends numerous tests to determine the cause of signs and symptoms. Chest X-ray shows abnormalities if patients have pleural mesothelioma. Chest or abdominal CT scan may reveal abnormalities in chest or abdomen if patient is suffering from mesothelioma. It is common that mesothelioma is misdiagnosed initially because mesothelioma is unusual and its signs and symptoms are not specific. Biopsy is the only way to diagnose the mesothelioma. It is a surgical procedure to remove a small portion of the mesothelium for laboratory examination. Thoracoscopy allows the surgeon to see inside chest of the patient. In this procedure, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions between ribs. He or she inserts a tube with a tiny video camera to see inside chest cavity. Laparoscopy allows the surgeon to see inside abdomen. Using one or more incisions into abdomen, the surgeon inserts a tiny camera and special surgical tools to obtain a small piece of tissue for examination. Thoracotomy is surgery to open chest to allow a surgeon to check for signs of disease. He or she removes a sample of tissue for testing. Laparotomy is surgery to open abdomen of patient to allow a surgeon to check for signs of disease. He or she removes a sample of tissue for testing. Once the tissue sample has been collected through biopsy, the sample is analyzed under a microscope. This determines whether or not the abnormal tissue is mesothelioma. Biopsy samples also allow doctor to test for the type of cells involved in mesothelioma. On the basis of this diagnosis, treatment plan is made. After the diagnosis of mesothelioma, doctor conducts other tests to determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread. This process is called staging. Imaging procedures allow doctors to see inside chest or abdomen to determine the stage of mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma spreads in the chest, it puts pressure on the structures in that area. This can cause numerous complications which includes difficulty in breathing, chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, swelling caused by pressure on the large vein that leads from upper body to heart (superior vena cava syndrome), pain caused by pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. Mesothelioma in worst stage can lead to death.
Treatment plan for mesothelioma is based on health and certain aspects of cancer of patient such as its stage and location. Mesothelioma is a dangerous disease and most of the patients do not recover from this disease. Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage when it is not possible to remove the cancer through surgery. Doctors try their best to control cancer and its signs and symptoms to make patient more comfortable. There are many treatment options for mesothelioma that may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and clinical trials. Surgeons work to remove mesothelioma from patient's body. Sometimes it is not possible to remove all of the cancer. In those cases, surgery may help to lessen the symptoms caused by mesothelioma spreading in body. In another treatment of this disease called chemotherapy, chemicals are used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout body and kill rapidly growing cells. This works against cancer cells, but also affects other rapidly growing cells in body, such as those in hair follicles and in gastrointestinal system. Chemotherapy may reduce the growth of pleural mesothelioma. Chemotherapy can be used before surgery or after surgery to reduce the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma patient.
Radiation therapy concentrates on high-energy radiation to a specific spot or spots on patient's body. Radiation may reduce symptoms in patients who have pleural mesothelioma. Doctors aim radiation at the entire chest to obtain the best result. However, many sensitive organs reside in the chest, such as the heart, lungs and spinal cord, so doctors must use low doses of radiation to spare these organs. Radiation therapy is sometimes used after biopsy or surgery to prevent mesothelioma from spreading to the surgical incision. Sometimes, combination therapy is used to treat this disease. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be combined. This therapy can be difficult and may not be suitable for all patients. Younger, healthier people and those with earlier stage mesothelioma may be more able to tolerate this treatment. Combination therapy has been used in both pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Clinical trials are new mesothelioma treatment methods. Mesothelioma patients may opt for a clinical trial for a new type of treatment. It does not guarantee good results.
If people take preventive measures in their surroundings, they can avoid this disease. People must not get exposure to asbestos. It may reduce risk of mesothelioma. Workers who may encounter asbestos fibers include Miners, Factory workers, Insulation manufacturers, Railroad workers, Ship builders, Gas mask manufacturers and Construction workers. They are advised to follow cautions in their workplace, such as wearing protective equipment. Some old homes and buildings may contain asbestos. In many cases, it is more dangerous to remove the asbestos than it is to leave it intact. If these sheets are broken, it may cause fibers to become airborne, where they can be taken into body of a person as he breathes. If all precautions are taken, people do not expose to this deadly disease.
Note: This information is just for knowledge of disease. If such type of medical condition develops, consult your doctor.