Today’s topic is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer arising from the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the thin layer of protective tissue that covers the outer surface of many internal organs such as the heart, abdomen, and lungs.
A mesothelioma is an aggressive form that progresses and spreads quickly. Mesothelioma is divided into many different types depending on the part of the mesothelium affected. Mesothelioma that occurs in the pleura or the lining of the lungs is called pleural mesothelioma.
It is the most common form, mesothelioma that occurs in the lining of the abdomen called peritoneum is referred to as peritoneal mesothelioma, it is the second most common form.
Mesothelioma that occurs in the protective layer of the heart is referred to as pericardial mesothelioma this type is the rarest it happens more in males than in females. In 2015, about 60,800 people had the disease, and 32,000 deaths were recorded. Only about 9% of people diagnosed with the condition live longer than five years.
The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos refers to a set of six types of silicate minerals that are naturally occurring. Asbestos is made up of fibers that are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, fire, and several chemicals asbestos is used in a wide variety of applications, such as insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring, and many other products.
When asbestos is broken down, such as when removing asbestos insulation, or during the mining process, the dust has created the fibers that can be airborne. They can then be inhaled or swallowed and can settle permanently in the lungs or stomach, where they cause irritation that causes mesothelioma. After asbestos exposure, it can take 20 to 40 years before mesothelioma can develop.
Factors that may increase the risk of mesothelioma include a personal history of asbestos exposure such as is seen in people who mine asbestos work with asbestos products, produce products from asbestos, or work in a building containing asbestos, living with an asbestos worker.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of mesothelioma.
1. Pleural mesothelioma
Shortness of breath, unintended weight loss,
coughing, often painful, chest pain under the ribcage, fatigue, in severe cases: pneumothorax, lung collapse, tumor under the skin of the chest.
2. Peritoneal mesothelioma
Abdominal swelling pain in the abdomen, weight loss, fever, night sweats, poor appetite, constipation, vomiting, in cases where cancer has spread to other parts of the body, troubling swallowing, swelling of the neck and face.
3. Pericardial mesothelioma
Shortness of breath, low blood pressure, chest pain, extreme fatigue, heart palpitations.
Diagnosis is suspected with imaging scans, but a biopsy is used for confirmation, The doctor will review your medical history and carry out a physical examination to check for lumps or any unusual signs, followed by chest x-ray and lung function tests.
A CT scan or MRI is also usually used to check for abnormalities.
A biopsy can be used to confirm the diagnosis the type of biopsy depends on where the symptoms are options include: fine-needle aspiration, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, thoracotomy, laparotomy, the diagnosis will check if cancer is present and how far it has spread. The stage of the cancer is between stage 1 to stage 4.
stage 1 mesothelioma, the cancer is confined to the mesothelium and has not spread. In stage 4 mesothelioma, cancer has spread around the chest and to different organs.
Treatment options depend on the location, the stage, age, and patient’s general health. For most people, a cure isn’t possible because the condition is usually diagnosed at the late stage – when it is impossible to remove cancer with surgery.
The only remaining option, in many cases, is trying to control cancer to make you more comfortable. Treatment options may include: surgery, when the condition is diagnosed early, surgeons work to remove the tumor, in cases where it is impossible to remove the cancer, surgery may help to reduce symptoms.
Surgical options may include: surgery to decrease fluid buildup. Surgery to remove the tissue around the lungs or (pleurectomy) or the tissue lining the abdominal cavity (peritonectomy).
Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams such as x-rays to kill the cancer cells. chemotherapy that involves using medication injected intravenously or taken orally to kill the cancer cells.