epithelioid mesothelioma The cancer of the mesothelial cells
epithelioid Mesothelium is the protective tissue that covers the chest cavity, abdominal cavity and the cavity around the heart and also produces a special lubricating fluid that allows the internal organs of the body to move around. Malignant Mesothelioma can be defined as the cancer of the mesothelial cells which become abnormal and start dividing without any order. Majority of the mesothelioma patients have a prior history of exposure to asbestos.
Types of malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant Mesothelioma or simply Mesothelioma can be divided into 3 main types namely
Of these, Epithelioid is the most common (50% to 70% cases) and stands the best chance of recovery. Sarcomatoid type is seen in 7% to 20% cases whereas mixed/biphasic type is seen in 20% to 35% cases.
Approximately, of the total cases of Mesothelioma originates in the chest cavity (pleura) and is known as pleural mesothelioma. The cancer affecting the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is called the peritoneal mesothelioma and that affecting the sac like space around the heart (pericardial cavity) is called the pericardial mesothelioma. Mesothelioma at times also affects the covering layer of the testicles. However, the last two types of cases are quite rare.
The tumors of the mesothelium can either be benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). So whenever there are symptoms like shortness of breath, pain in chest/abdomen or swelling in the abdomen, you should consult your doctor immediately.
After the initial X-rays and scans, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity (in case of pleural tumor) with an instrument called thoracoscopy and the test is called thoracoscopy. In case of tumor in peritoneum the doctor may go for peritoneoscopy with the help of a tool called peritoneoscope. Finally, if the abnormal tissue is found then a biopsy is done, whereby a piece of the unnatural tissue is cut out and placed under microscope for examination.
After the confirmed diagnosis of Mesothelioma it is also essential to ascertain its stages i.e. whether it is in localized stage or in advanced stage. In the localized stage, the cancer is found in the lining of the chest cavity or in the diaphragm or the lung. Advanced malignant Mesothelioma can again be divided into 3 stages namely stage II, III and IV. In stage II, the cancer spreads beyond the chest lining to lymph nodes and in stage III it spreads into chest wall, center of the chest, heart, through the diaphragm or abdominal lining, etc. The final or the fourth stage is the one in which the cancer has already spread to distant organs.
Depending on the stage of the cancer, its location and the health, age and medical history of the patient, 3 types of treatments are mated out to malignant Mesothelioma patients surgery (to remove the tumor), radiation therapy (application of high energy rays) and chemotherapy (usage of combination of drugs). This apart, if there is any accumulation of fluid in the chest or abdomen, then the doctor needs to drain it out and the process is regarded as thoracentesis and paracentesis respectively.
So be aware of the disease, such that you can prevent it at the very onset.
epithelioid Mesothelioma a cancer caused by asbestos
The internal organs of the human body are encased in a protective sac called the mesothelium. Examples of mesothelial membranes are the peritoneum (abdominal organs), pleura (lungs), and pericardium (heart).
Under specific conditions, the cells of the protective membrane divide uncontrolled and become cancerous. This disease is termed as Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer which is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos dust.
The disease is found to occur among those who work in shipyards, asbestos mines and factories, industries that produce asbestos based products, and the heating and construction businesses. Approximately 3,000 cases occur each year in the US, and most patients are between 50-70 years old. Statistics show that males are commonly affected and among them whites more than African Americans.
First studied in the late 1700s in depth studies were only done in the 1960s. Tumors of the Mesothelioma can be benign or malignant. The malignant Mesothelioma are categorized into three types:
Epithelioid, accounting for 50-70% of mesotheliomas.
Sarcomatoid, accounting for 7-20%.
Mixed or bi-phasic, accounting for 20-35%.
When asbestos fibers are breathed into the lungs they travel through large air passages to reach the smaller passages and from them the pleura. In the pleura they damage: the mesothelial cells leading to cancer; lung tissue causing lung cancer; and the development of scar tissue within the lungs known as asbestosis. When asbestos fibers are swallowed they reach the abdominal cavity and cause peritoneal mesothelioma.
Research reveals that the disease only manifests 20-50 years after being exposed to asbestos dust. The symptoms are not specific to the disease but a patient may develop:
Chest pain accompanied by tightness believed to be caused by accumulation of fluid in the pleura.
Low back pain.
Swelling of face and arms.
Weight loss that is unexplained.
Persistent dry cough.
Problems with blood clotting.
Since the above are common to minor ailments, patients often ignore the symptoms. It is advisable to consult a doctor if any of the above symptoms persist or if you feel you have been knowingly or unknowingly exposed to asbestos.
A doctor will:
Take down a detailed medical history and try and determine the symptoms and risk factors.
Do a thorough physical examination and check for signs of:
o Pleural effusion, fluid accumulated in the chest cavity.
o Fluid in the abdominal cavity.
o Pericardial effusion, fluid in the lining of the heart.
Take a chest x-ray and check for thickening of the pleura, calcifications, and lowered lung fissures.
Ask for a CT scan to determine clearly the location, size, and extent of the problem if any is suspected.
Recommend tests of tissue samples and pleural fluids.
Other risk factors are cigarette or cigar smoking, exposure to radiation, exposure to zeolite a compound that is similar to asbestos, exposure to or infections caused by SV40, a Simian virus.
Those who work in a risky environment should wear protective clothing, have the surroundings tested regularly for suspended asbestos particles, and ensure that they have regular medical tests and report to the doctor any ailments that persist.
Being aware of the disease and its problems helps.