Mesothelioma is a rare type of aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.
This type of known cancer develops from the thin layer of tissue that many of the internal organs covered (such as the mesothelium.) First, by inhaling asbestos fibers, mesothelioma is diagnosed in older people more often associated with the Asbestos products in an industrial environment.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of 2017, 2,400 to 2,800 people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease each year.
People who have worked or have been exposed to asbestos have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. After exposure to asbestos, the symptoms of mesothelioma may take 20 to 50 years to appear.
In 2015, approximately 60,800 people had mesothelioma and 32,000 died from the disease. The incidence of this disease varies in different parts of the world. In Australia, the United Kingdom, numbers are higher and lower in Japan. In the United States, it occurs in approximately 3,000 people per year. It is more common in men than in women. Disease rates have increased since the 1950s. Diagnosis usually occurs after age 65 and most deaths occur around age 70. The disease was rare before the commercial use of asbestos.
Types of Mesthelioma:
There are three main types, each type is classified by the location in the body where it is developed. The prognosis, symptoms, and treatment options vary by type.
- Pleural mesothelioma
This is the most common type and develops in the soft tissues of the lungs and is best treated with a multimodal approach.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
It is the second most common type and occurs in less than 20 percent of all cases. It forms in the lining around the abdomen. Treatment Works best with a combination of surgery and heated chemotherapy.
- Pericardial mesothelioma
It is one of the rarest types and is formed in the soft tissues around the heart. It is best managed with a multimodal approach
Causes of mesothelioma:
Asbestos is the only major cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once highly prized for its insulating and fire retardant properties. Asbestos can be found in common industrial materials such as paint, floors and ceilings, electrical writing, pipe material, brake pads and insulation. While people work in mining, firefighters, construction workers, demolition workers, mechanics, machinists, Pipefitters, shipyard workers, boiler workers are at high risk.
When asbestos is altered, the fibers are transported in the air and can be swallowed or inhaled, eventually deposited in the sensitive lining of the lung, stomach or heart. The fibers cause irritation and scars that can mutate and inhibit the body’s defenses. Finally, this scar tissue can develop into tumor growth. As they are inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers are deposited in the linings of the lungs, abdomen or heart and, over time, can cause tumors. In rare cases, a single exposure is enough to cause mesothelioma.
Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma:
The signs and symptoms can usually be slow. These include
- Shortness of breath due to fluid around the lungs
- Fever and night sweats
- A swollen belly,
- The pain of the chest wall,
- Weakness in muscles
- Feeling tired, and
- Weight loss.
Malignant type is extremely aggressive and has a long latency period, which means that it is usually not detected until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. This can not be cured. However, the prognosis for mesothelioma has improved slowly over the years. This improvement in prognosis is due to the development of experimental treatments, new detection and diagnostic techniques, and other areas of research in clinical trials.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
Treatment varies from therapeutic nihilism to radical combination modalities. Although the disease and its management have a great impact on the social, emotional and physical well-being of patients and their families, support and palliative care pathways seem to be underdeveloped.
A biopsy, a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue for a laboratory test, is the only way to determine if you have mesothelioma. Depending on which area of your body is affected, your doctor will choose the right biopsy procedure for you.
The options include:
- Fine needle aspiration
The tissue sample is analyzed under a microscope to see if the abnormal tissue is mesothelioma and what types of cells are involved. The type of mesothelioma you have determines your treatment plan.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma can be very difficult to treat, as it is often found when it is advanced. Almost all treatments aim to control mesothelioma for as long as possible and keep your symptoms under control.
Some people with early stage have surgery. This is followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy or a combination of both.
People with advanced stages can receive chemotherapy to reduce it and reduce symptoms. Chemotherapy can help some people live for weeks or months longer. Radiation therapy can also reduce the size of the cancer and control its symptoms.