Cancer of the mesothelium, a membrane that lines many internal organs, is known as mesothelioma. This illness is a severe form of cancer that often results in death.
Although uncommon, mesothelioma is a particularly deadly form of cancer. Symptoms of this condition typically don’t appear until decades after the initial exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma typically affects people between the ages of 60 and 80.
Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed at an advanced stage, making treatment challenging even though it is possible. For this reason, it is crucial to take preventative measures and go in for regular checkups.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are four types of mesothelioma cancer, namely:
- Pleural mesothelioma (pleural mesothelioma), which is cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs (pleura) and is the most common type of
- Mesothelioma Cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity, or peritoneum (peritoneal mesothelioma).
- Cancer of the lining that surrounds and protects the heart is called pericardial mesothelioma.
In addition to the above, solitary fibrous tumor, which affects the lungs and chest cavity, is another type of benign mesothelioma. However, this form of mesothelioma will not be discussed in this article.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Inconclusive research has been done to pinpoint what exactly causes mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is frequently linked to previous contact with asbestos. In construction, asbestos is commonly used as a roofing material due to its high resistance to heat and flame.
When asbestos is broken up, whether in the mining process or during renovations, tiny fibers or dust are released. The fiber is easily inhaled and spreads throughout the body before settling in the lungs.
Asbestos fibers can be ingested, travel through the lymphatic system, and eventually cause cancer of the abdominal lining (peritoneum).
Risk factors for mesothelioma
Though anyone is at risk of developing mesothelioma, those who share the following characteristics are at a higher risk:
- Mineral mining, building construction, automobile production, power generation, textile manufacturing, and steel production are all occupations where asbestos is commonly found.
- Living in old buildings or environments where the soil contains asbestos
- Asbestos dust can be brought into the home if a member of the family works in a high-risk environment and brings it home on their skin or clothing.
- Has a history of cancer in one’s family, especially mesothelioma or a hereditary cancer predisposition.
- The use of thorium dioxide or the mineral erionite can cause cancer.
- Infected with simian virus (SV40).
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The onset of mesothelioma symptoms can occur anywhere between 20 and 60 years after the disease has first been detected. Patients may experience no symptoms at all in the beginning stages of mesothelioma. But as cancer cells multiply, they eventually press on nearby nerves or organs, triggering distress.
Mesothelioma symptoms vary widely between organs. Symptoms of pulmonary mesothelioma may include:
- Fever and sweating, especially at night
- Body feels very tired
- Cough with unbearable pain
- Difficulty breathing because of pulmonary edema
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Chest pain
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Pain in the shoulder or upper arm
- Inflammation or deformation of the fingertip (clubbing fingers)
- The subcutaneous tissue of the chest develops a lump.
While abdominal mesothelioma (peritoneum) can cause the following symptoms:
- Fever or night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased weight
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lumps or swelling in the abdominal area
- Impaired defecation and urination
Extremely rare types of mesothelioma include those affecting the pericardium or testicles. Pain in the chest and trouble breathing are symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma; testicular mesothelioma manifests as swelling or lumps.
When to see a doctor
Mesothelioma can present with signs and symptoms that are easily mistaken for those of other diseases. Therefore, if you have a history of asbestos exposure and are experiencing the above symptoms, you should see a doctor right away.
Mesothelioma can only be diagnosed after the doctor asks questions about the patient’s symptoms and medical history, particularly the patient’s possible exposure to asbestos. A physical examination will be performed as well in order to detect any abnormalities.
Scan procedures such as these will be used by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis:
- X-rays, for detecting changes in lung size, shape, or pleural fluid.
- A computed tomography (CT) scan can be used to look inside the chest and abdomen, find cancer, and see if it has spread to other parts of the body.
- PET scan, to get an in-depth look at the potentially cancerous tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for a clearer picture of the internal organs and pinpointing of the tumor’s location
Based on the test results, the doctor may also recommend further tests in the form of:
Tests detects elevated levels of fibulin-3, osteopontin, and peptides in the blood. Mesothelioma patients typically have elevated levels of these three chemicals.
Examination of fluid samples
The presence of cancer cells can be detected by taking a sample of the fluid that has accumulated in the body due to mesothelioma and analyzing it in the lab.
There are several types of fluid sample examination, namely:
- The process of obtaining a fluid sample from the thoracic cavity is called a thoracentesis.
- Paracentesis, or removal of abdominal fluid, is a procedure.
- Procedure where fluid from the membrane (lining) of the heart is drained
A biopsy entails taking tissue samples from a selected area of the body for subsequent laboratory analysis. Many different kinds of biopsies exist, including:
biopsy Needle biopsy is done by inserting a long needle into the chest or abdominal cavity.
2. Thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and mediastinoscopy
Through one or more tiny incisions, a flexible tube containing a camera and specialized surgical instruments is inserted to collect tissue samples for analysis.
3. Surgical biopsy
In some conditions, the doctor will perform an invasive procedure to take a larger sample of tissue to confirm the diagnosis. Doctors can also remove the entire tumor at once if possible.
biopsy To diagnose respiratory tumors, a thin tube is inserted through the patient’s throat and into the lungs for a biopsy. If so, he or she will need to remove a piece of the tumor so scientists can study it.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is classified into four distinct phases, depending on the tumor’s size and rate of metastasis. The progression of cancer cells, prognosis, and treatment strategy can all be gleaned from this staging categorization.
Mesothelioma Treatment Mesothelioma
is an incurable form of cancer that occurs in certain cells. Symptom relief and life extension are the only goals of treatment.
In light of the foregoing, the following are some treatment options that doctors may suggest:
Chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to treat cancer by directly attacking the malignant cells themselves. Before surgery, this treatment can make the cancer cells smaller and easier to remove, and after surgery, it can lessen the likelihood that the cancer will return.
Areas of the body where cancer has spread are targeted with X-rays or proton beams as part of radiotherapy or radiation therapy. This treatment is often administered after surgery has been performed but cancer cells persist.
If a patient has advanced cancer and cannot have surgery, radiotherapy may be used to alleviate their symptoms.
Operations can be performed in early-stage mesothelioma. Surgical procedures include, but are not limited to:
4. Multimodality therapy
The success rate of treatment is increased by using a combination of three or more treatment modalities, such as surgery, postoperative chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Complications of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma that has enlarged or spread can compressing surrounding organs or tissues. This can lead to various complications.
When intestinal obstruction occurs as a result of peritoneal mesothelioma, it can lead to symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and a rapid feeling of fullness.
Avoiding contact with asbestos is the primary method of preventing mesothelioma. If your workplace has a high risk of asbestos exposure, you must adhere to the company’s safety regulations, such as:
- Using personal protective equipment while in a work area prone to exposure to asbestos.
- Putting any leftover asbestos somewhere it won’t cause harm to the environment.
Also, the risk of developing mesothelioma can be lowered by taking a number of other preventative measures, including:
- Regular medical examinations for the diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases
- Follow instructions on how to handle asbestos safely