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MESOTHELIOMA OVERVIEW

 

 

 

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that attacks the mesothelial cells, which are found in the internal linings of human organs and body cavities. Roughly 2,000 to 3,000 cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year and approximately 10,000 die annually from mesothelioma. All forms of mesothelioma are extremely aggressive, and chances of surviving once diagnosed with this disease are very slim.

CAUSES

Nine out of 10 cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos. On extremely rare occasion, mesothelioma has developed in individuals who have not been knowingly exposed to asbestos. Other potential causes of mesothelioma are not known, but some research has shown a link to radiation exposure.

Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they attach to the internal lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Since the body cannot expel or break down asbestos, the microscopic fibers lay silent in the body and slowly wreak havoc at a cellular level. Exactly how asbestos causes mesothelioma is still being researched, but medical professionals do know that asbestos irritates and inflames mesothelial cells, causing cellular damage, permanent scarring, and disrupts cellular division in a way that causes them to produce cancerous cells.

TYPES

There are five known types of mesothelioma; four of which are malignant, and one is benign:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: Developing in the lining of the lungs, this type of mesothelioma is the most common (approximately 70 percent of all cases).
     
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Comprising roughly 25 percent of mesothelioma cases, this form develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity.
     
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma forms in the pericardium, which is the lining of the heart. Roughly 5 percent of mesothelioma cases fall under this category.
     
  • Testicular Mesothelioma: The rarest form of malignant mesothelioma, this cancer develops in the tunica vaginalis of the testicles. To date, less than 100 cases of testicular mesothelioma have been recorded.
     
  • Benign Mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma typically develops in the pleura, and though this form holds the highest chances of recovery, it also may be a precursor for other asbestos-related conditions.

SYMPTOMS

One of the most unfortunate issues surrounding mesothelioma is the non-specificity of symptoms. Particularly during early developmental stages, symptoms of mesothelioma are deceptively indicative of other diseases

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Persistent dry or raspy cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in the chest or rib area, or pain from breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Unusual weight loss of 10 percent or more
  • Appearance of lumps under the skin on the chest

Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Difficulty breathing

 Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Appearance of lumps under the skin on the abdomen

 Testicular mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Appearance of testicular lumps

TREATMENT

Treatment of mesothelioma cancer includes curative methods and palliative methods. Curative treatments are those which attempt to omit cancerous cells and cure the disease. Palliative treatments are designed to alleviate pain and make the patient more comfortable, and are typically employed in the later stages of diagnosis.

Conventional curative treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Experimental treatments such as gene therapy and immunotherapy are used as well. In most cases, a patient will receive more than one type of treatment to combat the disease from multiple angles.

For more information on For more information on the variety of asbestos uses and mesothelioma, please  visit  www.asbestos.com.

 

 

 

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