Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that affects the torso of the human body severely. There is a strong link between mesothelioma and contact with asbestos particles through breathing or swallowing.
According to the website information provided by Mesowatch, there are approximate 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma per year due to companies knowingly allowing employees to work unprotected with asbestos materials and products for years.
There are three common forms of mesothelioma:
1. Pleural mesothelioma is the common form of mesothelioma. It starts in the thoracic cavity (after inhaling the particles) before it spreads to other areas.
2. Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the abdomen (after swallowing the particles) and represents approximately 10-20% of patients with mesothelioma.
3. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest form of mesothelioma. It starts in the cavity that surrounds the heart.
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose early because the symptoms are often confused with those of other less serious illnesses.
To make matters worse, it often takes many years for the symptoms to occur after contact with asbestos. People with a history of long-term exposure to asbestos have the greatest risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.
Even a small exposure to this carcinogenic material can result in malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, however, has a latency of up to thirty and forty years, and many people who have previously been exposed to asbestos are now showing symptoms.
This means that the average age of patients with mesothelioma is between 50 and 70 years. Men are more often affected by the presence of asbestos in industrial environments.
There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma.
Epithelial, sarcomatoid and mixed. Epithelial mesothelioma is the most common. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, persistent cough and pneumonia.
In addition, the symptoms are often confused with less serious illnesses and many patients show no signs.
People with pleural mesothelioma can collect some fluid between the lining of the lung and the chest cavity.
This can be detected via a chest x-ray, as well as CT scans.
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is based on a biopsy. This test will examine a tissue sample to detect the presence of malignant and/or pleural mesothelioma.
The key causes of Mesothelioma
Asbestos Exposure is the only known main cause of mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a type of insulation material that has often been used in the past in the following industries:
- Brake mechanics
- Ship mechanics
- Maintenance workers
- Construction Industry
- Naval industry
- Automotive industry
Mesothelioma is more common among people who worked in the industries mentioned and who were exposed to asbestos in their workplace. The use of asbestos was much discussed after the 1940s.
However, it would be 10 to 40 years after the first exposure to the first symptoms of mesothelioma became noticeable, which would make diagnosis difficult. The peak in the cases of mesothelioma will be reached according to the research carried out in the year 2010. There are three types of asbestos in common use: white, brown and blue.
Brown and blue asbestos are more often associated with mesothelioma. These types of asbestos were limited by most countries in the 1990s. A record of asbestos exposure at work is reported in approximately 70%-80% percent of all cases.
Asbestos is a very toxic material and can cause serious damage to the health of a person. It is made of very small fibers that can reach the pleura (outer wall of the lung) and damage the pleura that form the cells.
These fibers can also be transferred to clothing, which makes them dangerous not only for the person exposed to asbestos but also for the members of their family.
Smoking does not seem to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and exposure to asbestos dramatically increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the respiratory tract in the lung.
The symptoms of mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma will appear after 30 to 50 years of exposure to asbestos. The accumulation of fluid in the pleura due to which the pain in chest and shortness of breath are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.
Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Abnormal blood clotting
If mesothelioma cancer has spread outside the mesothelium to other parts of the body, the symptoms may be a serious pain, difficulty swallowing or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms can be caused by mesothelioma. It is important to consult a doctor about any of these symptoms.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is often complicated because the symptoms are similar to those of various other conditions.
Only a doctor can make a diagnosis. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, the likelihood of recovery varies according to various factors, including the size and location of the tumor, its spread, and the age of the patient.
In general, the earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the greater the chance of survival. If you think you have had one of the typical symptoms of mesothelioma, visit your doctor for professional advice.
The diagnosis starts with an evaluation of the patient’s medical history. The test can be performed and the test, including X-rays of the breast or abdomen and lung function tests.
A computed tomography (CAT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging may also be useful. Computer tomography is a series of images of parts of the internal parts of the body. These images can be seen and a monitor and can also be printed.
To confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma a biopsy is needed. And a biopsy, a surgeon or an oncologist, an example of extra tissue for a pathologist, an examination with a microscope. A biopsy can be performed in various ways depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is there and the thorax, the doctor can perform a Thoracoscopy.
And for procedural reasons, the doctor has a small cut through the chest wall and places a thin, illuminated tube called thoracoscope and the chest between two ribs. With Thoracoscopy the doctor can look into the chest and take tissue samples. If the cancer is and the abdomen, the doctor can perform a peritoneoscopy.
To obtain the tissue examination, the doctor has a small opening and abdomen and a special instrument, the peritoneoscope, and the abdominal cavity is inserted. If these procedures do not produce sufficient tissue, a more extensive diagnostic operation may be necessary.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, knowledge of the stage and extent of the disease.
Staging involves more tests and a precise effort to determine if cancer has increased, etc., to which parts of the body. Know the stage of the disease. Mesothelioma is described as cancer alone and the surface of the membrane where it came from.
The original classification has spread over the surface of the original membrane in other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs
The treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of cancer, the stage of the disease and the age and general well-being of the patient. Typical treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes these treatments are combined.
Surgery is a frequent treatment for mesothelioma. The doctor can remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and part of the surrounding tissue. For pleural cancer (pleural mesothelioma), a lung can be removed in an operation called pneumonectomy. Sometimes, part of the diaphragm, the muscle under the lungs that helps breathing, is also removed.
Radiation therapy involves the use of energy-rich rays to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. Radiation therapy only affects cancer cells in the treated area. Radiation can come from a machine (external radiation) or moving materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes in the area where the cancer cells are located (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most medications used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous or IV). Doctors also study the effectiveness of the direct application of chemotherapy to the thorax or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms and control discomfort, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has accumulated in the chest or abdomen. The procedure to remove fluid from the breast is called thoracentesis.
The removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Medications can be given through a tube in the breast to prevent more fluid from collecting. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.